British Columbian Nikki Kassel led all female racers, 35-39 years, in the 15 kilometre freestyle event with a time of 0:45:04.8. The Prince George skier jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. She was all smiles after crossing the finish line.
“It’s a beautiful gliding course. When I did the pre-ski, I thought it was going to be a lot harder course but it wasn’t. It’s a fast snow that’s cold and dry,” said Kassel, one of the 472 Canadians taking part in the seven-day SHMWC. “I’m happy with (placing first). It’s a good way to start the week.”
Other Canadians getting their week off to a solid start were Pat Pearce (President of the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club, F55-59) and Catharine Pendrel (F30-34) with gold medals. Canadian silver medals went to Olav Stana (Sovereign Lake Nordic Club, M55-59), Marta Green (Sovereign Lake Nordic Club, F30-34), Nancy Burden (F45-49), Olwyn Ringheim (F80-84). Canadians collecting bronze were Kirk Howell (M35-39), Steve Cyr (M40-44), Karine Perrin (F30-34), Doris Hausleitner (F35-39), Sheila Kealey (F45-49), Shirley Gray (F65-69), Thor Vilkstrom (M80-84). Races slated for Sunday are all classic technique races and include the men’s 30 km, men’s 15 km, women’s 15 km, men’s 10 km and women’s 10 km.
Saturday’s blue skies highlighted the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club and provided the perfect backdrop for the much-anticipated event which attracted 1,134 athletes from 22 countries. SHMWC Event Chair Bruce Cummings is fielding an avalanche of positive feedback from well-travelled athletes.
“It’s all come together above and beyond expectations. The volunteers have been outstanding. There’s more than 300 of them and they’ve all been working hard,” said Cummings in the Event Tent. “Everybody I’ve talked to are impressed with the event. You hear words like ‘outstanding, superb’ and ‘glorious.’ I can’t describe how good this all feels.
“The weather has been absolutely perfect. The snow is fast and everybody loves the conditions,” he added.
World Masters Association Honorary President Dieter Heckman is credited by many for giving the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club the green light to host the event. Heckman is thrilled with the good start the SHMWC is having and noted that the people he’s talked to have said the course is the “best ever.”
“The course is up and down but not too difficult,” said the Switzerland resident. “The people here have been very friendly and I liked the (First Nation) singers and dancers at the opening ceremonies. You don’t see that often.”