“Putting a bib on always adds that extra bit of excitement and nerves!” Rosanna Crawford wrote in an email on Sunday.
One of Canada’s top biathletes, Crawford had bested a field of North American nordic athletes the day before in an 8 k skate competition at Frozen Thunder, the saved-snow loop in Canmore, Alberta.
“We’ve done a few biathlon [time trials] on snow, but it’s always fun to leave the rifle at home and just focus on the skiing,” wrote Crawford, who was 17.2 seconds faster than national team teammate Emma Lunder. “Going round and round the 900m [loop] made for a tough race, there isn’t much rest on that loop and you always have to be working.”
“I do feel that the increased amounts of intensity this year have helped me with speed – I feel quite strong going into this season, and it seems that my body is better at recovering from tougher workouts,” Lunder wrote in an email. “During the race Rosanna and I worked together for six out of the 8 loops which was great. We took turns leading and pulling and it was super fun to practice racing tactics with her. I think (especially for myself) skiing together helped us race even faster with the constant chasing/chase going on. It was motivating to try and react to her every move, and I was pretty psyched to actually lead us for a few of the loops.”
Mary Rose of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team finished third, another 18.5 seconds behind Crawford.
“Putting a bib on and racing on snow is always an exciting experience,” the American skier, who won the Climb to the Castle rollerski race earlier this autumn, wrote in an email. “This time trial helped flush out the cobwebs and allowed me to focus on my race routine. This felt like a real race because it wasn’t just Sun Valley SEF Gold Team but several Canadians and the Canadian National Team. It was fun to get into the mix with athletes you don’t usually race with!”
Crawford noted that with recent cold weather, she had been hoping for a longer loop in the Canmore woods.
“It’s unfortunate the Nordic Centre wasn’t a bit more on top of having the snow guns out,” she wrote. “We had about 10days of below -5 temps at night and could have had a 3-4km loop by now! …It almost looks like the race season should have started in Canmore will how snow looks in Europe right now!”
She’s not wrong. Although Norwegian ski areas pour money into saving and making snow to provide early skiing, the weather in central and northern Europe has not been cooperating this year and some early-season venues are struggling to provide quality on-snow training.
Bon autant être honnête et ne pas vendre du rêve…et pourtant je me suis régalé pendant 2h! I prefer to be honest…Anyway it was good to be back on the skis! A photo posted by Martin Fourcade (@martinfourcade) on
Annika Hicks of Canmore Nordic was the top Canadian cross-country skier, finishing fourth. Her time was a minute and 17 seconds slower than Crawford.
In the men’s 10 k race, Graeme Killick of the Canadian National Ski Team took an 8.1-second victory over Kevin Sandau of the Alberta World Cup Academy. Spandau in turn eked out a time just 0.9 seconds faster than National Ski Team stalwart Ivan Babikov to secure second place.
Rose’s Sun Valley teammate Rogan Brown placed fourth, +27.3.
From here the athletes are headed either to Europe for the opening races of the World Cup season, or to other locations in North America to kick off domestic points series.
“I always look forward to the start of the season, heading to Sweden, knowing I get to visit my favourite Euro yarn store in Östersund, seeing all your friends and getting ready to see if all your hard work in the summer has paid off,” Crawford wrote. “We have a few more weeks until the first race, so training is still intense, a mix of volume and intensity. I seem to be strong in December and then not quiet as good the rest of the year. So we are trying a bit of a different approach to keep a better fitness through out the year.”
Rose will race next in West Yellowstone, Montana.
“The first races of the season will be in West Yellowstone, MT during Thanksgiving week,” explained Rose, who writes on her website that her sights are set on the Ski Tour Canada World Cup races later in the season. “From there we head home to Sun Valley for the second set of SuperTour races… My fitness is where I want it to be right now, but there is obviously room for improvement in the coming weeks. My goal is to keep building fitness as the season progress.”
Others don’t know yet where they are headed: Lunder wrote that the biathlon team has time trials November 10th and 13th to determine who will go to the World Cup (of the positions which were not pre-selected) and who will go to the second-tier IBU Cup.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.