Western Canadian Championships
Mild weather greeted athletes for the Canadian Western Championships at the Riverbend Recreation Area in Red Deer, Alta. from Jan. 19-21. The fourth stop for the 2017-18 Noram, the circuit also doubled as a test event for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
In the opening skate sprint, Olivia Bouffard-nesbitt (Fondeurs Laurentides/rocky Mountain Racers) won both qualifying and final rounds ahead of Zina Kocher (Foothills Nordic) and Annika Hicks (Canmore NORDIC/AIAWCA). Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) had the top time for the men, ahead of Jesse Cockney (Foothills Nordic), but the final would see their places reversed, as Cockney took the win ahead of Kennedy and Patrick Stewart-jones (Nakkertok).
Day Two saw racing action unfold with Classic Mass Starts. A lead group of nine skiers formed in the men’s 15km after lap one, but a steady pace gradually saw athletes falling off until only Kennedy, Cockney, Andy Shields (Lappe Nordic) and Scott Hill (Barrie XC) remained heading out for the final lap. At the line, it was Shields with a nine-second gap over Kennedy and Hill, but the results were later revised and Hill disqualified for wearing the wrong bib, giving Cockney third place. Commissaires were cracking down this weekend, handing out written reprimands to 15 of 42 men in the race.
The three main protagonists from Friday’s sprint returned to the fore in the women’s 10km Mass Start. Bouffard-nesbitt, Kocher and Hicks remained together, along with Laurence Dumais (Founders Laurentides/aiawca) until things started to heat up toward the end of the race. Hicks made a decisive final move to take her first Noram win of the season. She was followed closely by Bouffard-nesbitt and Kocher 23 seconds back. After two days of intense Individual-start racing, visiting Team BC took a slim 130-point lead of 3,337 to Alberta’s 3,207 going into the final day of competitions for the Western Championship title. Saskatchewan was in third with 484 points aided on Day Two by a strong Para-nordic showing.
The Open Men’s race initially saw a close competition between Ontario and B.C. in the skate three-person relays. On the final leg, however, it was day-before winner Ontario’s Andy Shields (Lappe Nordic) who skied to the win by a 20-second margin over B.C.’S Greg Kilroy (Telemark). Alberta took the bronze. Shields was joined on the Ontario team by Hill (Barrie XC) and Michael Somppi (Lappe Nordic).
The Open Women’s race was dominated by the Alberta team of Hicks ( Canmore NORDIC/AIAWCA), Kocher (Foothills Nordic) and Emma Camicioli (Rocky Mountain Racers). A young B.C. team finished second, while Alberta also had the third-fastest team across the line.
The final determination of the Haywood Noram Western Canadian Championships came down to the wire, and had to wait until the end of the day after the Midget relays were completed. After the racing concluded, Alberta came back strong to be crowned 2018 champions with an 80-point lead over B.C.
Senior men's 15km CL podium
Senior women's 15km 10km15km CL podium