By Matt Smider, Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club
It’s been a busy few weeks for the Revelstoke Nordic Race team.
From Jan. 3-11, four skiers joined members of the BC Ski Team for the US Cross Country Ski Championships at Soldier Hollow Nordic Centre in Utah. Local 16 years olds Alana Brittin, Elizabeth Elliott, and Kate & Beth Granstrom attended, along with coaches Bruce Granstrom and Matt Smider. Soldier Hollow, which played host to the 2002 Winter Olympic events, was the venue for both the Canadian and U.S. World Junior Championship selection trials since it will be the site of the 2017 World Junior Championships this month.
The event started ib Jan. 7 under clear and cool skies with a 10 kilometre interval start free technique race. Beth Granstrom posted the top Revelstoke result, finishing 13th in the U18 category and eighth amongst U20 Canadians. Elizabeth followed close behind as 23rd U18, while Kate placed 39th and Alana was 55th.
On Sunday, athletes arose to a mixture of rain and snow with temperatures hovering around 0 C making for extremely challenging waxing conditions. A 1.4 kilometre classic sprint race was contested with Alana leading the way for Revelstoke through the qualifier, placing eighth in U18 and fifth in U20 Canadian. Beth qualified as 12th fastest U18, Kate placed 31st and Elizabeth 32nd.
The final day of racing was a 7.5 kilometre classic mass start event with more than 150 participants lined up in the start on a blustery day. As a younger skier with low seeding points, Kate Granstrom began at the back of the starting grid in 149th. Not one to be discouraged, she put forth an incredible performance, passing 139 skiers and placing 10th in U20, second in U18 and fifth U20 Canadian. Beth crossed the finish line as the sixth U18, Alana was 12th and Elizabeth finished 41st.
While reflecting on the races, Alana remarked about how inspiring it was to compete at the site of the 2002 Olympics where Beckie Scott had won her gold medal (Canada’s first-ever in cross-country skiing). Kate and Alana agreed the mass start was their favourite event due to the sheer number of competitive skiers and the tactical nature of continually pushing past athletes. They were all appreciative of the opportunity to race at such a high-calibre event, exposing them to a level of competition they had not seen in Canada.
The four girls and four Revelstoke teammates were back at it last weekend for the Western Canadian Championships in Whistler. Callaghan Valley, site of the 2010 Olympic Nordic events, played host to more than 600 skiers from all western provinces and territories, along with top skiers from Ontario and Quebec. Weather transitioned to and from clear skies and snowfall making for tricky waxing conditions, but a welcome departure from the forecasted rain.
Friday’s race was a freestyle sprint event contested on a 750 metre course for midget athletes, one kilometre for juvenile and juniors and 1.2 kilometre for women. Elizabeth Elliott led the way for Revelstoke with superb climbing technique allowing her to claim second place in the junior girls A final, followed by Alana Brittin in fifth. Jaclyn Elliott raced to a fifth place in the midget girls A final.
On Saturday, skiers completed in a distance classic interval start race with four kilometres for midgets, 7.5 kilometres for juvenile and juniors, and 10 kilometres for women. Beth Granstrom charged around a strong final lap to finish first in the junior girls, while Alana was a mere 15 seconds behind in third and Elizabeth skied to eighth. Jaclyn secured fifth place in the midget girls race, Kolibri Dobrish skied to an impressive 11th in the juvenile girls, and Erik Brosch finished 14th in the juvenile boys. Revelstoke skiers welcomed a familiar face to the start line as Emily Suchy put her skis and sled back on snow and poled her way to a second place in the para-Nordic sit category.
The final event was a unique opportunity for athletes as they competed a division relay mixed with other skiers from around the province. Elizabeth’s junior girls team led a B.C. podium sweep in first, with Beth’s team second. Alana’s team would have completed the sweep, however an unfortunate off-course maneuver by her teammate resulted in their disqualification. Jaclyn’s midget girls team claimed second, while Kolibri and Erik helped their teams finish fifth.
Revelstoke skiers will now have a week to relax and focus on their studies before next weekend’s BC Cup in Prince George.