Alana Brittin of the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club raced to her first victory at the 2018 Ski Nationals in Thunder Bay, Ont. on March 11. (Rob Buchanan)

Alana Brittin skis to first victory at nationals

Revelstoke Junior Girls all boast top 8 finishes on Day 2

The Junior Girls on the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Team continue to demonstrate their dominance in the five-kilometre classic race at nationals.

Alana Brittin, 17, skied to her first win at a national ski championship, finishing the interval start event in 15 minutes and 56.6 seconds.

“It’s really nice to have your hard work pay off,” she said by telephone from Thunder Bay, Ont. Sunday afternoon.

Teammate Beth Granstrom, 17, who won this race at nationals in Canmore, Alta. last year, finished 29.8 seconds back in second place.

Granstrom said she is happy with her result and that sharing the podium with Brittin “makes it really special.”

The other two Revelstoke skiers in the event also placed in the top 10. Elizabeth Elliott was 37.3 seconds back from Brittin in sixth, while Kate Granstrom (+43.7 seconds) finished in eighth.

The classic technique event took place on a back-heavy course at Lappe Nordic Centre. The first 1.5 kilometres featured a rolling, meandering trail that saw racers utilize their double-poling technique. Then came the four major hills.

When coach Matt Smider saw the racers, they all had strong race splits.

In an interval start event, you are racing the clock and don’t always have a good idea of where you are in the standings.

On the last hill, a long gradual up, Smider said, “they were all striding really well.”

It was a hill that Granstrom had identified in her race plan. Knowing that other competitors would be feeling uneasy about the final climb, she committed to a positive attitude.

“I knew that was my chance,” she said. “I had to stay positive.”

Granstrom usually prefers longer events than the 5K, so in her race plan, she knew she would need to go all-out for the whole race.

When she hit the finish line, she sat down and put her head on the snow. She was wholly satisfied with her effort.

Brittin, whose best race is the 5K classic, also knew she would have to work hard for the duration of the race.

“It’s just a push the whole time,” she said.

And at the end of the day, two Revelstoke Nordic athletes were standing on the podium.

It was only the second day of the week-long competition, which wraps up on March 17.

“The first two days have gone really well,” said Smider.

The 12 Revelstoke athletes in attendance have already logged impressive results.

Two of the athletes, Nelson Luxmoore and Jaclyn Elliott are competing in their first full nationals, while Zoe Larson, Arianna Morrone and Emily Macleod are at their first nationals.

Also on Day 2, in the Junior Boys 10K, Erik Brosch finished 14th in a competitive division, completing two loops of the 5K course in 29:59.0.

In the Juvenile Boys 5K, Nelson Luxmoore finished in a tie for 28th.

Gina Cinelli was 15th in the Senior Women 5K.

In the Juvenile Girls 5K, Rebecca Brosch had the top result, finishing 19th. Jaclyn Elliott was 26th, Emily Macleod was 27th, Arianna Morrone was 45th and Zoe Larson was 49th.

“Overall, I think it was a really successful day,” said Smider.

On Day 1, the athletes paired up for the team relay.

Revelstoke’s teams were decided via a time trial a week ago.

In the Challenge Girls Final, Brittin and Kate Granstrom finished second.

Luxmoore and Brosch were ninth in the Challenge Boys semifinal 1.

In the Challenge Girls Semifinal 1, Jaclyn Elliott and Macleod were ninth, while Beth Granstrom and Elizabeth Elliott were 12th.

In the Challenge Girls Semifinal 2, Larson and Brosch were 14th.

The racers have a scheduled day off from racing Monday and will be back at it Tuesday for the pursuit.

In the pursuit, start times are decided based off your time from the classic interval start race. So Brittin will be heading off half a minute ahead of the next best in the field, Granstrom. It’s a race to the finish.

“That makes for a fun, exciting, event,” said Smider.

Days 5 and 6 are the freestyle technique sprints. Day 7 is another training day and Day 8 is the classic mass start race.

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