BVCCSC at the Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships
Wednesday March 30, 2022
Nordic Ski Racing with Olympians
The Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships wrapped up at Whistler Olympic Park on Sunday March 27 with a distance skate race. U16 athletes from Smithers, Finley Gagnon and Ava Wimbush, covered 10 km of the Olympic-level course, while U18 skier Chloe Williston had 15 km to go. The races were mass start with nearly 100 athletes in the starting grid, 20 row of five across.
With warm temperatures and rain on the race day, officials salted the course with fertilizer at 5:00 am to firm up the trails. The senior men and women racers were on the course first and lapping four times to cover 45 km. With so many on course before the U16 and U18 races, the trail conditions were soft and slow by the time our athletes got their turn, effectively turning the race into a grim battle of determination.
Not afraid of hardship, the three girls battled on, and raced well. Ava found herself 7th across the finish line and 5th among 2006 athletes, Finley 23rd among 2006s, and Chloe 24th among 2005s.
“Ava, Finley, and Chloe skied their hearts out this week,” reflected coach Patrick Williston. “This is their first National Ski Championships and all three showed that they can compete at the highest level.”
Earlier in the week, during Monday’s classic individual start, Ava raced to 12th among 2006 females, while Chloe raced to 19th among 2005s. Greg Baxter raced to 3rd among Canadian 2003 males.
“I am very proud of how the three Bulkley Valley girls were able to ski, compete, and soak in the entire experience,” added head coach Andrew Brisbin. “Their participation has excited the younger generation of athletes at our club to aspire to compete at Nationals in the not-too-distant future.”
At the 1 km classic sprints on Thursday, Chloe placed 23rd for her age, and Finley 39th. The snow conditions were challenging, and coach/wax tester Williston covered more than 20 km on a 500 m test hill as the team dialed in the best klister for the hilly course. “I’m getting to know that hill pretty good,” observed Williston.
Friday featured a skate relay, multiple laps of a 750 m course. Chloe and Finley teamed up to take 16th in the B Final, with Finley finding her top gear and passing several teams on the final straight stretch. Later in the day the team got a chance to watch Olympic skiers Julia Kern (US) and Dahria Beatty (Canada) battle head-to-head the women’s sprint relay final.
“It is inspiring to see the National and Olympic calibre athletes compete along side up and coming U16 and U18 skiers,” noted Coach Josh Wimbush.
The Canadian National Cross Country Ski Championships mark the end of a long racing season that began way back in early December. April is a month for rest and recovery, and a time for these girls to begin setting new goals. Soon they will be back training hard all spring and summer long to take their skiing to new heights next winter. Remember to give them a cheer when you see them out trail running, road riding, or roller skiing in your neighbourhood. They are dedicated athletes, kind and considerate teammates, and terrific ambassadors of Smithers wherever they travel to train and race.