By Matt Smider, Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club
Revelstoke Nordic skiers are returning home with much to be proud of after the 2016 Ski Nationals held in Whitehorse, Yukon, from March 19-26. Seven local athletes and two Revelstoke Nordic alumni trekked northward to the territory and competed against more than 600 of Canada’s top cross-county skiers.
Alana Brittin, Elizabeth Elliott, Beth Granstrom and former Revelstoke Nordic team member and current Carleton University student, Megan Evans, led the way with numerous top 10 finishes. As a team, Revelstoke finished a best ever 15th out of 61 clubs, including a strong 10th place amongst the Junior categories.
Ski Nationals kicked off on March 19 with a 2×3 kilometre classic team sprint for the Challenge Girls, with birth years from 1998–2001. Athletes partnered with their teammates in close-quartered heat racing. Our 2000 girls put forth two teams to the semi-finals. Alana and Elizabeth skied a blistering fast pace to qualify for the final, where they finished eighth. Sisters Kate & Beth Granstrom skied a strong semi-final, but failed to qualify for the finals and finished 20th out of 47 teams. Megan anchored her Carleton University team to a third place finish in the 2×3.6 km university women’s team sprint.
On Sunday, the Juvenile Boys and Girls and the Junior Women competed in a 5 kilometre classic interval start race. Alana led the way for Revelstoke with a bronze medal in the highly competitive 76-skier Juvenile Girl field. Beth skied to a strong ninth place, Elizabeth was 15th, Kate was 19th, and Miika Park finished 51st.
On the boys side, Simon Blackie was the top Revelstoke skier in 35th and Erik Brosch finished in 43rd in an equally competitive 71-skier juvenile boy field. In the junior women, Megan placed seventh and another former Revelstoke Nordic racer, Tayla Koerber, finished 22nd.
Tuesday’s event was a free interval start for all categories. The juvenile girls skied five kilometres, while the juvenile boys skied 7.5 km and junior women raced 10 km. Beth topped the Revelstoke juvenile results with a sixth place finish. Elizabeth was 16th, Alana finished 26th, Kate crossed the line in 38th; and Miika was 48th. On the boys side, Simon skied to a 32nd place finish with Erik close behind in 37th. Megan challenged the leaders, placing fifth amongst junior women, while Tayla finished 19th.
Wednesday and Thursday’s events were the fast and furious free technique sprints, with the junior women sprinting a 1.2 km course on Wednesday and the juvenile categories speeding around a one kilometre track on Thursday. Megan placed 16th and Tayla was 20th in their race. Wednesday’s sprints marked the end of the 2016 Canadian College and University Nordic Championships, with Megan finishing in second overall and Tayla completing the event in 18th.
In the juvenile girls sprint, Alana, Elizabeth and Beth qualified inside the top 30 to compete in the head-to-head heats. Alana powered her way to a fourth place finish in the A-Final, an under-the-weather Elizabeth skied to a gutsy 10th place in the B-Final, while Beth finished in 15th. Kate and Miika finished 52nd and 63rd respectively in the qualifier. On the boys side, Simon skied to a 45th position and Erik ended up in 54th.
The week’s finale was a classic mass start with a distance of 7.5 km for the juvenile girls, 10 km for the juvenile boys and 20 km for the junior women. Beth and Alana worked together and finished strongly in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Kate completed the event on a high note in 20th and Elizabeth was 34th. The juvenile boys also ended their season with top results, with Erik fighting to an impressive 22nd and Simon right behind in 26th. Finally, Megan endured the distance race in fine fashion, finishing seventh among the Junior Women.
The 2016 Ski Nationals was a world-class event organized by the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club and a team of over 250 volunteers. 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. Our athletes would like to extend their thanks for the financial support provided to attend Ski Nationals from the Revelstoke Credit Union, Knights of Pythias and the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club. In addition, our well-oiled parental support team proved flawless in their planning and organization prior to and during Ski Nationals. Athletes and their families can now proudly enjoy a much-deserved rest after an exceptional ending to a long, ski season.