Canmore hosted the second NorAm of the 2018/2019 season on December 13th, 15th, and 16th. The event also served as U23 and Junior World trials.
By the end of the weekend, starts at the U23/Junior World Championships and the World Cup’s Tour de Ski would be earned.
This event was originally scheduled for Whistler Olympic Park but had to be moved as a result of heavy rain and inclement weather forecasted into the immediate future. The Callaghan Valley Cross Country organization, the original bid-winner for this season’s trials, made the difficult decision to cancel on December 1st. The weather gods added one final insult on December 13th, when a major snowstorm ensued in the Callaghan Valley that would have made racing possible on the 14th.
Canmore’s cross-country community stepped in on December 2nd and was able to organize a successful race weekend with a few weeks notice.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) mandates that Continental Cup leaders for each period earn automatic start rights for the next World Cup period, including financial support from the event hosts. This season, Period 1 leaders get starts for Period 2 (Tour de Ski) and period 3 (Dresden, Otepää, and Ulricehamm) along with race support.
For the first time since Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaizova started in the 2014 edition, Canada will enter a woman in the Tour de Ski (TdS). The last female finisher was Sara Renner, who placed 16th overall in 2010.
This past weekend, Dahria Beatty won all three races in Canmore. Combined with her second place (and top Canadian result) in Sovereign Lake the previous weekend, Beatty is the COC leader and will leave for Europe on the 21st.
In an email to FasterSkier after Thursday’s sprint, Beatty wrote: “I think the first 3 stages of the Tour this year are my dream come true, 2 sprints and a 10km skate.” The day after sending the email, Beatty received the official news that her TdS dream would be a reality.
On the men’s side, Bob Thompson won twice in Canmore to lock down the male COC leader position.
As this event was also the selection trials for U23 and Junior World Championships, up to 12 athletes would automatically qualify for the Lahti, Finland championship races. The High Performance Committee met Sunday afternoon and will announce the final choices soon.
Weekend Results Summary:
Names in green earned automatic selection for Lahti.
Classic Sprint, Thursday:
- Open Women: Dahria Beatty, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Maya Macisaac-Jones; Marie Corriveau (6th, U23)
- Junior women: Anne-Marie Petitclerc, Molly Miller, Anna Pryce
- Open Men: Bob Thompson, Angus Foster, Julien Locke; Graham Ritchie (4th, U23)
- Junior Men: Remi Drolet, Tom Stephen, Xavier McKeever
Interval start freestyle, Saturday:
- Open Women 10km: Dahria Beatty, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Frédérique Vézina; Sadie White (4th, U23)
- Junior Women 5km: Molly Miller, Isobel Hendry, Elizabeth Elliot
- Open Men 15km: Russell Kennedy, Evan Palmer-Charrette, Alexis Dumas; Gareth Williams (6th, U23)
- Junior Men 10km: Sam Hendry, Remi Drolet, Tom Stephen.
Mass start classis, Sunday:
- Men 30km: Bob Thompson, Jack Carlyle, Russell Kennedy; Sam Hendry (4th, top junior), Antoine Cyr (5th, U23)
- Women 15km: Dahria Beatty, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Hannah Mehain (U23); Jasmine Drolet (6th, junior)
Doug Stephen photographed all three days; see his albums on Flickr for many more images in full resolution.
Quotes from Canmore:
“My tactics for every heat was to ski smooth and relaxed the first half and attack off the final two climbs into the finish. That worked out well for me today. I skied from the front and had control of the heats. The sprints were staged out of the biathlon stadium (hence why you couldn’t find them on the webcam) so it was an uphill finish, making for very fair racing.” — Beatty (1st)
“I was not happy with my qualifier but am really happy with how I skied the heats. Our staff did an awesome job with the skis today! The course was a lot of fun. Tactics essentially involved staying relaxed off the start, positioning well for the final climb and then hammering to the finish.” — Maya MacIsaac-Jones (CNST, 3rd)
“I feel pretty amazing about today’s race. 4th senior at a NorAm sprint is by far my best sprint result ever! My tactic was to have fun and just go like hell; I had a blast and I never went this fast before!” — Frédérique Vézina (CNEPH, 4th)
“I didn’t really have any tactics, I just wanted to go as fast as I could, ski well and try to stay with the leaders. I didn’t ask myself a lot of question, just ski fast!” — Marie Corriveau (MSA, 6th)
“I am very happy with how today went. I found the finishing sprint gear I felt I was missing had the speed when I needed it.
Everyone was fairly relaxed for the first half of the final knowing it was important to have the energy for the gradual climb into the finish. My move was made coming up to the last short downhill and then on the short striding hill before turning into the finish. I had been feeling great in that section in every heat and made sure I was at the front to make the most of it.” — Thompson (1st)
“The group strung out a little bit going into the big downhill, I was back in 5th but had amazing skis and came back up to the group pretty easily. Everyone was really skiing together going into the last climb, and Bob just put down a mean last hill and got away from us. I jumped out from behind Julien Locke as we hit the finishing stretch and got up beside him as we got right down to the line, and just got him in a big lunge.” — Angus Foster (TBay, 2nd)
“The tactics worked out for me as well! I was planning on holding on to the leaders in the final for as long as I could, and then using my fitness to the best of my ability in the finishing stretch.” — Graham Ritchie (TBay, 4th)
Interval start free technique
“It was a hard race today. I had a good start but then got really stiff going into my second lap after the big climb. It took a lot of mental fight to regroup after I got really stiff on the second lap but I was able to ski out of it and push really hard on the final lap.
I am really happy with my fitness right now, my pacing was a bit off today but I think that fact that I am in good shape allowed me to bring it back.” — Beatty (1st)
“I felt better and better throughout the whole race today! I kind of wish we had more lap to go…” — Vézina (3rd)
“Pacing was important today: that being said I didn’t pace it that well. Was definitely fastest the first two laps. Skis for me were really good [as] the team did an awesome job on them.” — Russell Kennedy (Team R.A.D., 1st)
“The race today went alright, I tried to start hard and couldn’t quite get myself into a top end race gear. I skied relatively consistent and was able to find a better feeling on the last lap, but overall not the way I want to feel during a race, the result was a pleasant surprise.
I think pacing played a big role, I was pretty far back after the first and second lap but turned out to be less than some guys lost on the last lap and so I was able to move up quite a few places in the final kms.” — Evan Palmer-Charrette (Team R.A.D., 2nd)
“My race today was really good. I feel like I was able to push hard and keep a good technique. I think the key today was to get a good glide after each push because they were not a lot of easy part on this course and the downhills were fast so you needed to get recovery were you can.” — Alexis Dumas (CNEPH, 3rd)
“Today’s race was good, not amazing but I’m happy to come away with the top U23 spot which qualifies me for U23 World Championships.
Today’s weather was static and remained the same for the whole race. The race was decided on the last lap, that’s where I pushed my hardest. My plan for the race was to increase the speed as the race progressed, getting a bit faster each lap. I was getting splits and I realized I was off the pace on the first laps, so I just made sure to push as hard as I could on the final climbs.” — Gareth Williams (Telemark, 6th)
Mass start classic
“Today’s race stands out as the most fun I’ve had in a 30k since the very first one I ever did at the Canmore Nationals in 2010.
The main group got smaller definitely through Russell pushing the climbs on most laps. We had the group of 6 for several laps and then the last 2 were really just the 3 of us with Russell pushing hard on the climb from the bottom of the course. Jack and I had faster skis and on the final downhills went by and then had a great sprint to the line.” — Thompson (1st)
“After a tough sprint day, it was great to bounce back with two super successful distance races. ” – Sam Hendry (Team R.A.D., 1st junior in 4th)
“Today was a fun race. A good battle between Katherine and me once again.
Katherine set the pace early and by the second lap, we were on our own. It was windy on course today, so it was hard to break from each other and after testing each other a few times on the last lap it came down to the finish sprint, which of course is my favourite.” — Beatty (1st)
“The race was really fun. I pushed the pace right off the start so Dahria and I made a break from the rest of the group after the first lap. We skied together the entire race, it was the type of course that made it difficult to break away because the hills were relatively short and there was quite a big drafting effect on the flats. It came down to the finishing stretch and Dahria was stronger on the double pole!” — Katherine Stewart-Jones (CNST, 2nd)
“At this point, if I am offered a start I will plan to race the first 3 stages and then reassess after that based on how I am skiing. The Dresden WC will also be a focus just after the new year so I want to make sure I am well prepared and have enough energy for those races as well.” — Beatty, on Thursday, before the Tour de Ski offer was made.
“Qualifying for world juniors has been a big goal of mine for many years and I am really excited to have achieved it this weekend.” — Hendry
“Most unusual part was getting to come home and lie in bed between the quali and heats.” — MacIsaac-Jones
“I am very very happy with my race today, I really surprised myself! It’s been a long time I didn’t feel good at racing so it was really fun to have good feelings again. Take the first spot for U23 world champ was the best way to start the season!” — Corriveau
“Getting to race the final with three of my NTDC Thunder Bay teammates was a blast, I was really proud of the way we skied out there today and think it reflects a lot of hard work by our team and coaches this year! I’m stoked for Graham and Julian go 1-2 in U23 with World Champs spots on the line, and we all owe a big thank you to our wax techs for some wicked boards all day.” — Foster
“It’s been really nice to race at home and sleep in my own bed, especially knowing I will be away a lot for the rest of the season.
Everyone in Canmore has done a great job organizing the races so last minute. I’ve been especially loving the chocolate medals!” — Beatty
“The highlight from this past weekend was hands down, getting to ski with my teammate and role model Russell Kennedy for almost all of the classic mass start on Sunday.” — Hendry