2018 Canadian Ski Nationals
2018 Ski Nationals The 91st Ski Nationals were held March 10-17 at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ont., sometimes referred to as Lakehead because it is situated at the top of the Great Lakes, receiving an annual 213 centimetres, or nearly 85 inches, of snow
The Championships kicked off with sunny weather and the Team Relay competition as Nakkertok claimed victories in the Open Women’s and Open Men’s categories, with Mont-ste-anne and Foothills winning the Challenge-category races. Carleton University won the women’s National Championship race, with Nipissing University edging out Laval University in a photo finish for the men.
Scott Hill (Barrie XC) started off Day Two claiming gold in the Open Men’s Individual-start Classic race, just under two seconds ahead of Skinouk’s Antoine Cyr, the top junior man.
Olivia Bouffard-nesbitt (Fondeurs-laurentides/rmr) claimed the women’s title, with Hannah Mehain (BC, Okanagan College/sovereign Lake Nordic/cnjrst) grabbing gold in the junior women’s class.
The Day Three Pursuit took place with the 10/15km Freestyle races that were combined with Interval-start Classic race times for the overall Pursuit time.
In the senior women’s race, American Caitlin Gregg (CXC/TEAM Gregg/lnr) came back from a 13-second deficit to handily win the women’s overall title by more than a minute ahead of Bouffard-nesbitt (Fondeurs-laurentides/rmr). Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic/ AIAWCA) won the silver medal and Nakkertok Nordique’s Katherine Stewart-jones nabbed the bronze. Gregg had the fastest time in the skate portion, ahead of Frédérique Vézina (CNMSA/CNEPH).
The men’s 15km race was close until the finish, with Jesse Cockney (AB, Foothills NORDIC/AIAWCA-NST) edging ahead of Canmore’s junior skier Ty Godfrey at the line by 1.2 seconds overall. Local favourites Lappe Nordic’s Michael Somppi and clubmate Evan Palmer-charrette were the second- and third-fastest seniors, within 1.5 seconds of Godfrey. Somppi, an expert in the 15km, registered the fastest time of the day. Cyr and Reed Godfrey were second and third overall for the juniors.
There was another medal for the local fans as Kai Meekis of Big Thunder won the junior boys’ race, and in the junior girls’ event, MontSte-anne’s Roxanne Vermette led a procession across the line to win gold. Juvenile honours went to Thomas Stephen of Foothills Nordic and Marielle Ackermann of Kimberley.
Next up were the Long Sprints on Day Five. Annika Richardson (BC, Hollyburn Ski CLUB/NTDC Tbay) claimed the junior women’s title over Lisle Compton (ON, Lakehead U./kenora Nordic/ntdc Tbay) in second, with Mehain in third.
Étienne Hébert ( QC, Montériski/aiawca) edged out Graham Ritchie (ON, Big Thunder Nordic/ntdc Tbay) for the junior men’s gold, as Cyr landed third on podium.
In the senior women’s race, Maya Macisaac-jones (AB, Rocky Mountain Racers/cn) claimed the victory over Nakkertok Nordique’s
Stewart-jones, with Alannah Maclean (ON, Walden Nordic/ntdc Tbay) close behind in third.
Cockney grabbed himself another podium in the senior men’s race, with Andy Shields (ON, Lappe Nordic) taking the silver and Palmer-charrette (Lappe Nordic/ntdc Tbay) bringing home the final podium spot.
Malcolm Thompson cruised to gold in the 1.2km Short-sprint event, edging out Meekis for the top spot. Thompson, a Parry Sound, Ont. native who skis under the Big Thunder Nordic Ski Club banner, crossed the line 1.46 seconds ahead of Meekis and eight seconds faster than third-place finisher Ian Williams of B.C.
The Short-sprint Championships were delayed due to temperature, but that didn’t keep the hometown crowd away. “On that uphill, the whole Thunder Bay community was out there lining the sides; it was just awesome to see,” said Thompson, adding the win is motivation enough to propel him into the junior men’s category.
Mont-ste-anne’s Vermette took gold in the junior girls’ race, a split second faster than Heidi Stewart, as B.C.’S Molly Miller took bronze. Stewart, who barely made it into the Championship race with less than half-a-second cushion, skied her way from the back of the pack a third of the way through the A final to claim silver, her first medal of the competition.
In the juvenile girls’ race, Quebec’s Liliane Gagnon took the top spot, while in the juvenile boys’ event, Foothills Nordic’s Stephen claimed gold.
After a day off, the final day of racing, saw a tight race for the senior men’s Mass-start 50km Classic title. The first group of skiers were within 10 seconds of each other as Lappe Nordic’s Charrette claimed gold, followed closely by Hill and teammate Ryan Jackson, both of Barrie XC. Julian Smith of NTDC Tbay was fourth, with Lappe Nordic’s Somppi in fifth.
The junior men’s 30km race saw Skinouk’s Cyr take gold, with Godfrey and teammate Samuel Gary Hendry sharing the podium in second and third.
In the junior boy’s 15km, Olivier Léveillé of Quebec won, with B.C.’S Williams hot on his tail. Big Thunder’s Meekis grabbed his fourth medal of the week, capturing bronze.
Nakkertok Nordique’s Stewart-jones stepped up the pace for her gold in the senior women’s 30km Classic race. In the end, it came down to timing, as a pack of the country’s top skiers and American Gregg (CXC/TEAM Gregg/lnr) forged their way to the front and stuck together until after the third lap, when StewartJones pushed her way into a good position near the front without going too hard, waiting until the last hill to give everything and not look back.
She found a burst of energy in the last 500 metres to outlast Hicks (Canmore NORDIC/AIAWCA) and teammate Maclean to grab the top spot. For Maclean (Walden Nordic/ntdc Tbay), an NTDC veteran, it was a chance at one final medal, having announced she’s leaving Elite ski racing.
It was more of the same for Kenora’s Compton in the junior 20km women’s race, as she pulled away in the end to edge Yukon’s Natalie Hynes by five seconds, her second Individual gold of the week. Sovereign Lake Nordic’s Mehain took third.
Alberta's Maya Macisaac-jones (Rocky Mountain Racers/cn) claimed the victory over Ontario's Stewart-jones (Nakkertok Nordique) in the women's Long Sprint.
Quebec's Olivia Bouffard- Bouffard-nesbitt Nesbitt ( (Fondeurs-laurentides/rmr) Fondeurs- Laurentides/ RMR) claimed the Individual Start CL and Pursuit titles.
Men's Pursuit podium (l-r) Ty Godfrey, Jesse Cockney, Michael Somppi, Evan Palmer-charette, Antoine Cyr
Ontario's Scott Hill (Barrie XC) claimed gold in the Open Men's Individual-start Classic race.