U.S. Skiers Invade Canada as Season Gets Underway
Dec. 10-11 - Sovereign Lake, B.C.
The Haywood Noram Buff Sprints started off the Canadian competitions at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, which also doubled as Round Two of the USSA Supertour. The strong American contingency led on Day One, with Julia Kern (Stratton Mountain School [SMS] T2) winning the Open Women's 1.2 CL sprint and Reese Hanneman (APU) taking the victory in the Open Men's race.
In the women's sprints, Elizabeth Guiney and Kaitlynn Miller, both of Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP), rounded out the U.S. podium, edging out Canadian Olivia Bouffard-nesbitt (Alberta World Cup Academy [AWCA]), who was the top qualifier by more than two seconds. In the final, Bouffard-nesbitt had a large lead at the top of the saddle climb and maintained that to the finishing straight, where the three American skiers overpowered her in the double-pole dash to the finish.
Hanneman saved his sprint legs for the final round. After qualifying 15th, he raced his way back to the top, leading a U.S. podium sweep in the men's race, followed by Cole Morgan (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Sun Valley [SVSEF]) and Ben Saxton (SMS Elite Team). A big semifinal crash left Antoine Briand (CNEPH/SKIBEC) as the only Canadian in the A Final, ending up sixth.
In the junior women's race, Hannah Mehain (Sovereign Lake) dominated the qualifier by 6.3 seconds and comfortably won all three heats to take her first win of the season. Gareth Williams (Telemark) followed suit in the junior men's race, winning the qualifier and all three heats.
On Day Two at Sovereign Lake at -10°C with light falling snow, the women's Interval-start 10km skate saw Chelsea Holmes (APU) coming away with the win, 36 seconds ahead of Erika Flowers (SMS), who was followed four seconds later by Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) in third.
The U.S. dominated the podium in the senior men's races as Scott Patterson gave APU another win in the men's 15km skate event, powered by a blaz- ing-fast opening lap. He finished 13 seconds ahead of Matt Gelso (SVSEF). In third place, Tad Elliott (Vail) crossed the line 13 seconds later. The top Canadian was Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) in ninth.
In the juniors, U.S. sensation Katharine Ogden (SMS) won the race in a time that placed her second in Open Women's. Philippe Boucher (Skibec) was the top junior man.
Dec. 16-18 - Rossland, B.C.
It was a chilly day of approximately -15°C in Rossland, B.C. as the athletes headed out on Day One of the Haywood Noram mini-tour. With a 10/15km Interval-start skate race on the program, it was a good test to see who could push themselves against the clock, in what could be quite slow conditions.
While the U.S. contingent was sparse compared to the previous weekend at Sovereign Lake, it still set the standard in the women's race as Holmes skied to a 50-second lead in the first 5km, to win by 1 minute, 49 seconds over Flowers.
Bouffard-nesbitt retained her position as the top Canadian on the Continental Cup leader board, with a bronze. Coming in as the second and third Canadians were junior Annika Richardson (Hollyburn) and Katherine Stewart-jones (Nakkertok).
In the junior women's race, Richardson was the top skier, with a 39-second lead over Mehain. Natalie Hynes (Whitehorse) was third.
In the men's 15km FR race, Kennedy had a fast opening lap, but it was Evan Palmer-charette (Lappe Nordic-ntdc Tbay) who skied away to a 31-second win on the final 10km. In third was Erik Carleton (Rocky Mountain Racers).
Williams was the top junior man once again, 13 seconds ahead of Boucher and 22 seconds ahead of Reed Godfrey (Canmore Nordic).
Another chilly day of - 15° C greeted skiers for the next round of the Haywood Noram Buff skate sprints that took place at Black Jack Ski Club. In the morning qualifiers, Bouffard- Nesbitt and U. S. sprint star Andy Newell ( SMS) set the performance standard. Newell, one of the top World Cup sprinters, was more than five seconds ahead of Simon Lapointe ( Skinouk).
In the heats and semis, Bouffard-nesbitt and Flowers battled, with Flowers coming out on top by half a second in the finals. Stewart-jones edged Holmes for third.
The men's semis saw some great competition as both top three's were separated by less than a second. The final looked to be a close contest, but the veteran World Cup skier Newell came through with a one-second win over Julien Locke (Black Jack) and Palmer-charette who were separated by 5/100ths of a second. Third was Kennedy.
In the junior women's class, it was Bend, Ore.'s Maya Seckinger (Bend Endurance Academy) who claimed the win, while Godfrey dominated the junior men's race, a second ahead of Williams.
The final day of the Haywood Noram featured a Pursuit-start Classic race determining the mini-tour champion. On the women's side, Holmes led 1.37 seconds over Flowers and Bouffard-nesbitt was another 43 seconds back.
In the men's race, Palmer-charette showed his strength with a comfortable 40-second lead over Kennedy, and finished ahead of Newell almost another 30 seconds back.
The U.S. skiers dominated the podium over the first two days, but on the final day, it was Stewart-jones who climbed to the top of the podium for Canada with a six-second victory over Holmes in the 10km Pursuit race. Flowers was 48 seconds back, less than a second ahead of Richardson, who was the second-best Canuck.
The senior men's 15km Pursuit race was won by Alexis Dumas (Skibec), followed by Jack Carlyle (Soo Finnish) and Carleton.
Hynes won the junior women's category and Williams won the junior men's race.
In the final Haywood Noram mini-tour standings, it was Holmes winning for the women's overall and Palmer-charette taking the men's title. In the overall series standings, Stewart-jones leads the women, while Palmer-charette is the frontrunner for the men.
(above) APU'S Reese Hanneman cruised to victory in the Open Men's CL sprint race at Sovereign Lake, B.C., with Cole Morgan (SVSEF) in second and Ben Saxton (SMS) in third.