Revelstoke competing last year in Mont St Anne, Quebec. (Submitted)

Revelstoke competing last year in Mont St Anne, Quebec. (Submitted)

Revelstoke Nordic skiers head to Finland for World Championships

It’s the first race of the season for the Canadian athletes

Almost one-third of the female skiers representing Canada at the upcoming Nordic Junior and U23 Cross Country World Ski Championships in Finland are from Revelstoke.

“I’m so proud. This speaks a lot to Revelstoke’s Nordic community,” said Matt Smider, coach. The competition will be held between Feb. 8 and 14.

Alexandra Luxmoore, 16, will be competing in the U20 category, while Elizabeth Elliot and Beth Granstrom are in the U23.

“I’m really excited and a little stressed,” said Luxmoore.

Due to the pandemic, national Nordic races in Canada are canceled. For all three athletes, this will be the first race of the season.

“It’s a bit nerve-wracking,” said Granstrom. Regardless, the trio has been training hard since the ski season was cut short last year. They qualified for the competition on results from last season.

The World Championships can be an important stepping stone to the Olympics. While travel for sport teams is prohibited by the provincial government, high performance athletes, such as the Revelstoke Nordic skiers, are excluded from the ban, but must still follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

At the event there will be no spectators, participants will have COVID-19 travel passports for tracking, required to isolate before and after events, plus quarantine for two weeks when back in Canada.

The three athletes said they will be frequently tested for COVID-19 before, during and after the Finnish competition.

Finland has been highly successful at controlling the spread of COVID-19 with infection levels roughly five times below the EU average. On Jan. 22, the country recorded only 350 new cases. By comparison, Canada had almost 6,000 new infections on the same day with 508 of those in B.C.

The three athletes have skied together since they were “bunnies,” growing up and racing together over the years. Now, Granstrom and Elliot live together and both study biology at the University of Calgary.

READ MORE: Elizabeth Elliott skates to podium finish at ski nationals

“It’s really special to travel to Finland with my best friend,” said Granstrom.

Last season, Elliot was the first person from Revelstoke to qualify for the World Championships in Germany, where she placed 23rd and broke the speed record for B.C. females.

READ MORE: Revelstoke nordic skier competes at Nordic Junior World Championship

While the three may not get an opportunity to explore Finland due to the pandemic, Luxmoore said she hopes to see the northern lights which are visible approximately 200 nights a year in the country.

Updated on Jan. 23 to include more information on COVID-19 in Finland and safety precautions to be taken by the athletes.

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