By Matt Smider, Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club
Revelstoke skiers are returning home with much to be proud of after the 2015 Ski Nationals held in Thunder Bay, Ontario from March 14-21.
Six athletes from the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club travelled eastward to compete against more than 600 of the top cross country skiers from across the country.
Emily Suchy lead the way with four golds in the Female Para-Nordic sit-ski, while Beth Granstrom, Alana Brittin and Elizabeth Elliott ranked second, third and fifth respectively in the 2000 Girls aggregate standings. Kate Granstrom and Tayla Koerber rounded out the Revelstoke contingent with strong results in their deep Juvenile and Junior Girls categories.
Note: Juvenile and Junior categories represent two years of birth; ’99 and ’00 and ’98 and ’97, respectively. Aggregate awards are presented for single year of birth performances at culmination of the National Championships.
Ski Nationals kicked off on Saturday, March 14, with a 2x3km free technique team sprint, which saw athletes partner up in close-quarter, heat racing. The Challenge Girls category ranges from birth years 1997 to 2000+. Being the youngest skiers in the category, Elizabeth and Alana performed well to qualify for the final and finish 11th. Tayla and Beth competed a superb semi final to finish 22nd.
On Sunday, Juvenile and Junior skiers were challenged to a gruelling five kilometre free technique individual start race, while female sit-skiers flew around two laps of a technical 1.2 kilometre course. Emily led the way in the para category with a first and Beth collected a tight fifth place, 1.5 seconds off the podium in the Juvenile Girls category. Elizabeth skied to a 14th, Alana was 30th, Kate was 45th and Tayla finished 50th.
Tuesday’s event was a five kilometre classic individual start for Juvenile Girls, 5.6 kilometre for female sit skiers, and the Junior Girls competed a longer 10 kilometre course. Once again, Emily continued to be the class of the para field with a first. In Juvenile Girls, Alana skied to her first-ever Nationals medal with superb second place performance. Beth finished 11th, Elizabeth was 26th, Kate skied to a 30th and Tayla was 45th.
On Thursday, Juvenile and Junior skiers raced the fast and furious 1.2 kilometre classic sprint event, and Emily conquered an equally fast 800 metre course, topping the podium in 1st place. Three Revelstoke Juvenile Girls qualified in the top 30 to advance to the heats. In the able-bodied categories, Alana skied strong and and tactically-well to achieve another podium in third place, while Elizabeth finished 10th in the B-Final. Beth finished 19th, Kate was 57th and Tayla was 54th.
The week’s finale was a free technique mass start — 7.5 kilometres for Juvenile and Junior Girls and eight kilometres for female sit skiers. Emily paced herself well and collected her fourth gold. The Juvenile Girls race proved very exciting, with Beth leading the pack heading into the final lap and ending up fifth, once again only seconds from the podium. In a tightly-packed sprint finish, Elizabeth crossed the line in 10th, Alana was 19th, Kate was 35th and Tayla completed her Nationals in 49th in the Junior Girls event.
At the Ski Nationals banquet, Beth and Alana were awarded aggregate trophies for their respective second and third place overall finishes amongst 2000 Girls, while Elizabeth ended the competition in fifth. Equally impressive, was the small, six-skier contingent from Revelstoke placing 17th out of 69 clubs in the overall team rankings (third out of B.C. clubs).
Ski Nationals is the premiere domestic event for Canadian cross country skiers and Revelstoke Nordic skiers proved to be a formidable force amongst the nation’s top athletes. Having previously competed in a Ski Nationals, Emily and Tayla were essential in leading the group of four dedicated Juvenile Girls who are paving the way for a young, upcoming generation of Revelstoke skiers.
Integral to the club’s success at Nationals was the support team including Debbie Koerber, Bruce Granstrom and our hard-working wax technician, Penny Page-Brittin. Athletes and their families can now proudly enjoy a much-deserved rest after an exceptional ending to a long, ski season.