Comp Canada: Noram and Junior/u23 Nordic Worlds Trials
by Julie Melanson
Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ont. played host to Round Three of the Haywood Noram Series, Jan. 15-16, as the event also served as the selection races for the Junior/u23 Nordic World Championships. With temperatures hovering around -17°C, both competitors and officials were racing to complete the qualifiers before a deep freeze settled in for the weekend.
Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) showed her strength with back-to-back wins in the women's field, while Black Jack's Julien Locke and Kevin Sandau (Foothills-awca) took home the top podium positions on the men's side.
The morning qualifiers saw Dupont lead the way in the senior women's field, while local skier Sadie White from Big Thunder was the top junior woman and fourth-fastest overall.
The senior women's final was a close contest, as Dupont claimed her fifth Noram sprint title by a mere 2/10ths of a second over Jenn Jackson of Team Hardwood, who edged out Skinouk's Sophie Carrier-laforte, a close third.
The men's qualification was quite decisive with Angus Foster of Big Thunder winning by almost five seconds over Skinouk's Simon Lapointe. Sandau, who has been dominating the circuit this season, had an equipment issue near the end of the qualifier, crossing the finish line in 29th place, almost missing the heats.
In the senior men's final, it was Locke, who came from being the fifth-fastest qualifier, claiming a dominant three-second victory over Patrick Stewart-jones of Nakkertok, with third going to local skier Angus Foster.
In the junior men's race, Team Hardwood's Joey Foster was the top qualifier by almost a five-second margin. He's the son of four-time Canadian Olympian Angela Schmidt-foster, the first Canadian female to win a World Cup medal.
White, who was approximately two seconds faster than Mont-ste-anne's Marie Corriveau in qualifications, saw the tables turned in the final as Corriveau prevailed by a similar margin for the win.
Day Two at Lappe got underway with the Interval Start, Classic races and temperatures at -10°C with 10 centimetres of fresh snow that fell overnight,
making the tracks squeaky-slow. Sandau, the favourite in the men's race, skied to a 15-second lead over Team Hardwood's Scott Hill on the first lap to finish 31 seconds ahead. Hill staked his claim to a spot on the U23 World Championship team with his result, as Brian Mckeever of Lifesport took third, another 30 seconds back.
Dupont grabbed her second gold medal of the weekend in the women's 10km, with Jackson another 15 seconds back, while Skinouk's Carrier-laforte was third.
The junior men's 10km race was tighter, as Antoine Blais of Skibec set a very fast pace on the first lap, but faded slightly on the second to sneak in eight seconds ahead of Ryan Jackson of Hardwood. Another Skibec skier, Philippe Boucher, was third.
The junior women's 5km race was a close contest as Annika Richardson of Hollyburn won by eight seconds over Corriveau. As the race winner, Richardson qualified for the Junior Worlds team, but as she is representing Canada at the Youth Olympic Games on Feb. 12-21, Corriveau will earn the spot on the team. In third was Molly Miller of Kimberley.