East­ern Cana­dian Cham­pi­onships

SkiTrax - - News - By Jenn Jack­son

The East­ern Cana­dian Cham­pi­onships, held Feb. 2-4, got un­der­way at Nakker­tok in Cant­ley, Que. with chilly -15°C tem­per­a­tures, but lots of sun. Dou­bling as a U.S. Su­per­tour and Cana­dian Para-nordic Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, the se­nior fields were stacked with top ath­letes from across the con­ti­nent and the Para com­pe­ti­tions hotly con­tested.

Morn­ing Clas­sic qual­i­fiers were won by Becca Rorabaugh (Alaska Pa­cific Uni­ver­sity [APU]) and Julien Locke (Black Jack). Locke won by a com­mand­ing five-sec­ond mar­gin, an im­pres­sive per­for­mance es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing he trav­elled over from the Seefeld World Cup just a cou­ple days be­fore.

The women’s heats saw Rorabaugh (APU) con­tin­u­ing her win­ning ways, out-lung­ing Kaitlynn Miller (Crafts­bury) and Erika Flow­ers (SMS T2) to take the early lead for the week­end’s mini-tour. Lau­rence Du­mais (Fon­deurs-lau­ren­tides/aiawca) was the top Cana­dian woman, plac­ing sec­ond in the B-fi­nal.

Top men’s qual­i­fier Locke (Black Jack) dom­i­nated the early heats, but in the fi­nal was chal­lenged by Ben Sax­ton (SMS T2). Locke made a small tac­ti­cal er­ror on the fi­nal cor­ner, giv­ing Sax­ton a break as they en­tered the fin­ish­ing straight, which was enough for Sax­ton to hold off Locke with a photo-fin­ish win. Home-crowd favourite Pa­trick Ste­wart-jones (Nakker­tok) claimed third, just ahead of four-time U.S. Olympian Kris Free­man (Cald­well Sport/strat­ton).

Para-nordic ath­letes kicked off the week­end with a Pro­logue that saw Derek Zaplotin­sky (Strath­cona Nordic) win the men’s Sit-ski by just 0.3 sec­onds over Se­bastien Fortier (Sk­ibec). Cindy Ouel­let (Para-club Nordique Mont-sre-anne) took a de­ci­sive win in the women’s Sit-ski, while Andy Lin (Nordic Rac­ers) and Lyne-marie Bilodeau (Or­ford) earned ti­tles in the men’s and women’s Stand­ing cat­e­gories.

It was an­other cool, sunny day at the Nakker­tok Ski Cen­tre in Cant­ley with the “The Cy­clery” Race Day be­gin­ning with the men’s 15km

In­di­vid­ual skate races. John Heg­man (Sun Val­ley) took a 10-sec­ond vic­tory over David Nor­ris (APUNSC) in the Open Men’s com­pe­ti­tion. Tad El­liott ((Ski & Snow­board Vail) was third, while Jack Car­lyle (Soo Fin­nish) of Sault Ste Marie, Ont. was the top Cana­dian in fourth, just three sec­onds from the podium.

For the women’s 10km, Rosie Frankowski of An­chor­age (APU) dom­i­nated the event with a 37-sec­ond mar­gin of vic­tory over the pre­vi­ous day’s sprint win­ner Rorabaugh (APU), while Flow­ers (SMS T2) fin­ished third. The top Cana­dian in fourth was Frédérique Véz­ina (Mont-ste-anne/cneph).

In Para-nordic events, Ouel­let won her sec­ond ti­tle in the women’s 2.5km Sit-ski race, while Fortier (Sk­ibec) was the fastest over the same dis­tance in the men’s race and was joined on the podium by Yves Bourque (Mau­riski) and Ethan Hess (Nordic Rac­ers). Kyle Bar­ber (Lau­ren­tian Nordic) won the 5km men’s Stand­ing com­pe­ti­tion, while Bilodeau (Or­ford) dou­bled up on the women’s side.

The weather changed dra­mat­i­cally as warmer tem­per­a­tures and heavy snow greeted the rac­ers at the “Fresh Air Ex­pe­ri­ence” Clas­sic Pur­suit races at Nakker­tok Nordic.

Para-nordic rac­ers were the first to take to the tracks with Zaplotin­sky (Strath­cona Nordic) re­turn­ing to the top of the podium ahead of Fortier (Sk­ibec) and Bourque (Mau­riski) in the men’s 5km Sit-ski and Tanya Ques­nel (Para-lau­ren­tian Nordic) earn­ing her first Na­tional Cham­pi­onship ti­tle in the women’s 5km. In Stand­ing cat­e­gories, Bar­ber (Lau­ren­tian Nordic) claimed his sec­ond gold of the week­end, while Bilodeau (Or­ford) made it a clean sweep of the women’s Stand­ing events with a third vic­tory.

In the Open Women’s com­pe­ti­tion, Frankowski (APU) claimed her sec­ond gold in two days in a dra­matic race with her team­mate Rorabaugh (APU). Frankowski started the day 47 sec­onds ahead of Rorabaugh, who clawed back most of that time over the 10km, fin­ish­ing just two sec­onds back at the fin­ish. Third, with the fastest elapsed time of the day, was Miller (Crafts­bury). Olivia Bouf­fard-nes­bitt (Fon­deurs Lau­ren­tides/rocky Moun­tain Rac­ers) was the top Cana­dian in fourth.

In the men’s 15km race, Heg­man (Sun Val­ley) started the morn­ing with a 10-sec­ond ad­van­tage over Nor­ris. Nor­ris quickly over­took Heg­man and skied on for a com­mand­ing 1:18 lead over Ver­mont’s Ben Lust­garten (Crafts­bury). There was a photo fin­ish for third, as Min­nesota’s Brian Gregg (CXC/LNR/TEAM Gregg) beat out Colorado’s Tad El­liott (Ski & Snow­board Vail) in the fi­nal sprint. The top Cana­dian was Scott Hill (Bar­rie XC) in ninth.

The week­end con­cluded with Que­bec top­ping On­tario for the Over­all East­ern Cana­dian Cham­pi­onship ti­tle.

Ben Sax­ton wins the men's sprint CL in a photo fin­ish with top-qual­i­fier Julien Locke.

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