For six Strathcona Nordics ski team members, Spring Break was anything but a time for rest and relaxation.
Just back from competing at the 2016 Haywood Cross-Country Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, March 19-26, are Tallon Noble, Connor McGrady, Madeleine Guimond, Ross Lamon, Matthew Salmon and Eva Salmon, all of the Comox Valley.
In a field of 500 of the best Nordic and para-Nordic ski racers in the country, including members of Canada’s senior National Team and National Development squads, our local athletes took on the challenge in a gruelling week of racing. Each athlete skied in a team sprint event, an individual sprint event and three distance events, short, middle and long, ranging in length from 5km to 20km.
In the Juvenile Boys category, in his very first Nationals competition, Salmon (Courtenay) had a breakout event, finishing on the podium in sixth place after a fine performance in the 5km middle distance free technique race. He also finished a solid 11th in the 10km long distance classic race.
Also in the Juvenile Boys category, Lamon (Comox) put in a series of outstanding races in the 1km free technique sprint race, advancing to the A Final where he placed sixth and on the podium.
In his first year in the Junior Boys category, Noble (Courtenay) placed just outside the top 20 in the challenging 20km long distance classic technique race. Having just aged up this season, Noble skied an excellent and consistent race finishing sixth fastest in his age group.
Also in his first year in the Junior category, McGrady (Comox) demonstrated fine technical skiing and a solid performance in the short and middle distance races.
On the girls side, Guimond (Courtenay), also in her first year in the competitive Junior category, had an excellent race in the 5km classical technique, placing just outside the top 30 and 17th in her age group. Eva Salmon, in her first Nationals competition, skied with grit and determination and produced some of her best performances this season.
“It was a challenging week of unseasonably warm weather for Whitehorse and tricky waxing conditions,” said head coach Andrea Stapff. “Our athletes were able to put their best foot forward and performed superbly.
“We had excellent race support from assistant coaches Brad Fraser of Courtenay, and Tim McGrady of Comox and fast skis courtesy of our skilled head wax technician Stewart Lamon of Comox.”
Stapff went on to say, “I’m incredibly proud of our team and our athletes. It’s been an amazing year and they have all done so well. It’s a pleasure to work with such a committed and tenacious group of young, talented athletes.”
She also addresses parents and club volunteers, whose incredible support throughout the year has made it possible for the Strathcona Nordics athletes to pursue their passion.