Drew Goldsack must be getting good at mini-tour racing; he’s on his third one this season.
Last weekend, the Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) member who trains with the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) tackled a Haywood NorAm mini-tour event in Orford, Quebec, finishing second. This weekend, Goldsack began another mini-tour, with a freestyle sprint in Kelowna, B.C. on Friday.
After posting the fastest qualifying time on the day, Goldsack stormed through the rounds on his way to the A-Final, where he lined up against the fastest domestic racers in the country.
The A-Final was stacked with domestic racing experience – Graham Nishikawa (AWCA), Stefan Kuhn (CNST), George Grey (CNST), Para-Nordic legend Brian McKeever, and young gun Matthew Wylie (Banff Ski Runners) joined Goldsack on the start line.
With so many top racers, it was battle from the gun. Nishikawa attacked around a quarter of the way through the race, and only Goldsack was able to respond immediately. But as the group headed back down towards the stadium, the others made contact.
Goldsack was able to squeak by Nishikawa, and in the melee that followed, Wylie made a surprise move to come from fifth all the way up to second place.
Kuhn rounded out the podium in third, followed by Nishikawa, Grey, and McKeever.
In an interview with FasterSkier, Goldsack said the course “skied fairly tough,” in part due to the long flat 200 meter finish stretch.
After playing second fiddle to Nishikawa during the NorAm mini-tour last weekend in Orford, Goldsack was happy to be back on top.
“It was nice to be back on top,” he said, “For me sprinting is the go-to discipline, so it was good to get the win.”
Goldsack is still trying to bounce back from illness which sidelined him during the Thunder Bay NorAm, and although he feels his shape has rebounded, there is still room for improvement.
“I didn’t feel one hundred percent – I was hurting a little more than I would expect at some points,” he said.
“One less day of recovery makes it tough,” said Goldsack. “It’s a hectic schedule, because even if you’re racing a prologue, it still makes for a long weekend.”
And Goldsack’s work is far from over – he and Nishikawa are in the midst of tight battle for the NorAm FIS World Cup quota spot for the spring World Cups.
After finishing the mini-tour in Kelowna, both Goldsack and Nishikawa will head to Gatineau, Quebec, to contest the final NorAm mini-tour of the season.
Meanwhile, in open women, Perianne Jones (CNST) made sure she held on to her top spot in the overall NorAm rankings, as she won the qualifier, then led the A-Final from start to finish for the win.
Jones finished ahead of Sarah Daitch, who made her first stop on the NorAm podium this season, and Andrea Dupont of the Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR), while juniors Rebecca Reid (AWCA), Dahria Beatty (Yukon Ski Team) and Suzanne Stevenson (Foothills Nordic) rounded out the A-Final.
“[Andrea] Dupont and [Sarah] Daitch were close – I could feel them behind me,” said Jones.
“It was really hard to get away from them – I just went for it from the gun, and tried to get away, but never managed to pull away.”
Jones described the sprint course as “really hard,” in a post-race interview with FasterSkier, but surprisingly not because of any particularly large hills. The 1.3 k course featured mostly gradual uphills, followed by a gradual downhill section into the finish.
“On the way back down it was a working downhill,” she said. “My legs felt really tired – there was no rest anywhere on the course.”
While Jones was the clear favorite on the day after qualifying, fellow CNST member Chandra Crawford looked to be her strongest competition on the start list.
However, Crawford felt ill before she even started, and after qualifying, opted to pull out of the race. She ended up qualifying third, but rather than race the heats, booked herself a flight back to Canmore, Alberta, to rest.
“It would have been fun to race her, if she had been healthy,” Jones said, “but going home is the smart thing to do.”
“The whole trip would be more fun if she weren’t sick – now I’m the only woman on the team here!”
Haywood NorAm racing continues tomorrow with prologue events for both the men and women.