After putting on a dominating performance at Canadian National Championships last March, including two wins, Canadian Graham Killick was named to the Canadian National Ski Team’s Development Team, and spent much of his summer training with the World Cup team, including Devon Kershaw and Ivan Babikov, in Canmore, Alberta.
While the World Cup team departed for Europe and the biggest cross country skiing stage in the world, Killick remained in North America, picking up right where he left off last spring.
The young Canadian has posted big results in competitive fields, most notably a fourth place finish in the 10 k classic at the West Yellowstone SuperTour event.
After starting slowly last season, Killick is pleased with his early-season success.
“I was really happy with my fourth place [in West Yellowstone],” Killick said in an interview with FasterSkier.
Like most top Canadians and Americans, Killick then headed to the Haywood NorAm at Sovereign Lake Nordic Center, in Vernon, B.C. He finished 12th in the sprint, and 10th overall in the 15 k skate, but was the first under-23 skier.
While he described his sprint result as “decent,” it was his distance skate result that he was the most pleased with, especially given the competitive field.
The challenging conditions played a major part in his skate race. “The skate day was a tough course with about half a foot of new snow making for soft, airy skiing,” Killick said, “I was able to start pretty conservative and pull back a lot of time on the last lap.”
From Sovereign Lake, Killick drove to Rossland, B.C. to contest the Haywood NorAm mini-tour, staged at the Black Jack Ski Club, again with tough competitive fields, including Canadian Olympians Stefan Kuhn and George Grey, just back from racing in Europe.
Killick was enthusiastic about the mini-tour format, and his results. He finished 19th in the freestyle sprint, 17th in the 10 k freestyle and then laid down the second fastest time in the 15 k classic on the final day, which placed him eighth overall.
However, Killick still feels there are areas in which he could improve.
“For me to get to the podium I think I need to get a bit more snap into my sprinting, especially skate,” he said.
While the skate sprint in Rossland was a qualification race for the Canadian World Championship team, Killick didn’t consider that his best shot at making the team. Instead, he is focused on the distance selection race for the team, a 30 k pursuit being held in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Killick is targeting the U-23 World Championships, rather than World Championships, but there is still a possibility he may get to hit the big stage.
“If my body is on form I do have a chance of getting in there,” he said, “I just do the work and see where it gets me.”
Canadian trials for U-23 World Championships and World Junior Championships are being hosted by Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay from January 6-9, 2011.
For the Senior World Championships Team, the selection criteria is more complex. The 30 k pursuit is the only trial race for men. For women, both the 15 k pursuit and the 10 k individual freestyle will count.
Meanwhile, all three races (pursuit, sprint, individual freestyle) will be counted as qualification criteria for both U-23 World Championships and World Junior Championships.