Frozen Thunder Race Day 2: Going the Distance

Gerry FursethOctober 31, 2018
Canada’s Russell Kennedy on his way to victory in the 10 k freestyle race at Frozen Thunder in Canmore. (Photo: Doug Stephen)

Frozen Thunder racing continued in Canmore, Alberta, on Tuesday with a 7.5 kilometer freestyle individual start for the women and 10 k for the men.

Once again, the athletes were more focused on training goals than finish order, which is summarized in the rundown

Team R.A.D.’s Ty Godfrey, the faster of the siblings today, expressed a common theme with his description of his race today.

The conditions were really challenging because the snow was so soft,” Godfrey wrote in an email to FasterSkier. “I feel like these conditions were perfect for a pre-season race because you’re not only testing your early season fitness, but also your ability to physically and mentally adapt during your race.”

With 133 racers registered, warm-ups were done on the rollerski track which meant the racers got their first feel for the snow conditions at the start line.

Canadian National Ski Team member Emily Nishikawa on her way to winning the 7.5 k skate race on day two of Frozen Thunder in Canmore. Canadian National Team biathlete Emma Lunder (50) is in the draft. (Photo: Doug Stephen)

Emily Nishikawa (CNST) won the 7.5km in 21:05.9 minutes, leading at all ten splits of the five lap course.

I was happy with my race today,” Nishikawa wrote. “It was a good hard effort and I got to practice some of the technical things I have been working on this summer.  I will continue to work on small details as I get ready for the race season.”

Nishikawa’s Whitehorse club-mate and fellow national team member Dahria Beatty was second, 24.0 seconds back.

Today’s race felt a lot harder after yesterday’s sprint effort, I was definitely feeling the effects of classic sprinting yesterday as I am sure most of the field was,” Beatty wrote. “The back climb was quite soft so it was a good opportunity to work on staying light and it was a good reminder that I need to continue to work on my steep offset and transitions at distance pace.”

Canadian Biathlon National Team member Emma Lunder was 5th, 1:22.5 minutes behind Nishikawa. Lunder has important races next week races. Today’s race gave her a chance to test the race gears.

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“The goal is to be ready for our [biathlon] World Cup trials races next week, so getting a hard effort in against some fast girls was a great opportunity leading into that. Unfortunately I just don’t feel efficient on snow yet, and had a really hard time in the conditions. However, I know these efforts are exactly what I need to be fast in the winter months!”

Men’s winner Russell Kennedy (Team R.A.D.) finished the six lap 10 in 22:18.5 minutes. Kennedy, who also placed first in yesterday’s classic sprint qualifier, was pleased with his distance effort.

“It was a fun day today!,” Kennedy emailed. “Always hurts a little the first race of the season but I am happy I was able to hold a good consistent pace the whole race!”

National team perennial Lenny Valjas was 4th today, 39.8 seconds behind. Valjas was the first racer to mention finish order. 

For the distance race, I paced it too well,” Valjas wrote to FasterSkier. “I lost a lot of time on the first two laps and finally smartened up and skied faster for the last 2/3. The guys were ripping out there today, I would have liked to be on the podium, but I am happy with being close time-wise.”

Although Frozen Thunder has enjoyed a reliable track of snow derived from last winter’s stored snow, many parts of North America are still waiting for snow and won’t start the transition from rollerskis until late in November or even December.

The Skinouk club held a rollerski race on October 27, in Gatineau, Quebec. It was the largest FIS-sanctioned rollerski race ever held in Canada with 122 athletes racing.

Doug Stephen has published photo galleries of the sprint and distance races.

Frozen Thunder Day 2 Distance Results

Gerry Furseth