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    • Haywood RACE Report: Frozen Thunder opens the N. American Ski Season

      October 31, 2018

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      Since 2009 the Canmore Nordic Centre has developed an early season ski loop of snow, preserved from the previous winter, called Frozen Thunder. It provides a 2k course for nordic skiers and biathletes and usually is the location of the first official FIS, on-snow races of the North American ski season.

      The loop is a partnership of the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, WinSport Canada Olympic Park, Cross Country Ski de fond Canada 's National Ski Team & Para-Nordic National Ski Team, the Alberta World Cup Society, Biathlon Canada & Biathlon Alberta! And it's popular.


      Monday and Tuesday saw the initial Frozen Thunder races of the 18/19 season, with a record turnout of close to 160 racers. The racers were testing their on-snow fitness in classic sprint and distance skate competitions. Many of the top Canadian, western based, cross country and biathlon skiers were racing, along with a top-level contingent of U.S. competitors.


      The sprint race uses a traditional time-trial qualifier, before moving into a King's Court format. Skiers are ranked based on their qualifying time and entered into heats of 4 based on that time, with men and women, seniors and juniors mixed together for 2 rounds of competition. Everyone continues through 3 rounds, with the top skier moving up to the heat ahead, and the bottom skier getting relegated to the heat below.  For the final heat, the top 4 skiers ranked in each age class, are grouped together.

      Robin McKeever, Canada's ParaNordic Head coach calls it "an amazing race format for all levels and genders of athletes as they get to keep racing for 3 heats win or lose" and compete against athletes very close to the same ability.


      The morning qualifier saw Dahria Beatty of Whitehorse (AIAWCA/CNST) show she is in great form, with an 11 second victory over Emily Nishikawa, her club, Academy and National teammate in the Senior Women's category.  On the men's side, Russell Kennedy, (Canmore Nordic/Team R.A.D.) claimed a bit more than a 1 second victory over Julien Locke (Black Jack,/CNST).

      An interesting feature of the results is a breakdown of the skier's performances on various sections of the course and allows comparisons of the various race strategies used. Qualifier results

      In the King's Court race Dahria Beatty kept up her dominance of the qualifier, to win the event comfortably ahead of Hannah Mehain of Telemark Nordic and Katie Weaver (Hollyburn Ski Club/Rocky Mountain Racers). The Junior Women's final saw Molly Miller of Black Jack take the win, ahead of Amanda Thompson (Whitehorse/AIAWCA) and Elizabeth Elliott of Revelstoke.

      Women's podium

      The men's race saw Team Hardwood's Lenny Valjas use his many years of sprinting experience to capture the win ahead of Dominique Moncion-Groulx (Nakkertok Nordique/Team R.A.D.). Lenny qualified in 4th and did enough in the rounds, to stay in the top group, before skiing to the victory in the final. Andy Shields of Lappe finished 3rd.

      For the Junior Men, Tallon Noble of Strathcona took the win ahead of Sam Hendry (Canmore Nordic/Team R.A.D.) and Telemark's Ian Williams.

      Men's podium

      Tuesday saw continued great, racing temperatures, just around zero deg. C., as the distance skate events took place.


      In the woman's race, Emily Nishikawa grabbed the win by about 25 seconds over Dahria Beatty, with Sun Valley's Catherine Feldman 3rd.  Biathlete Emma Lunder of Rocky Mountain Racers was the 3rd Canadian, 5th overall. For the juniors Shilo Rousseau of Barrie XC came across the line in first, 1/2 a second ahead of Amanda Thompson. Jenna Sherrington of Foothills Nordic (ULLR) was 3rd.

      Sr. Women's podium

      Jr. Women's podium

      Russell Kennedy crossed the finish line with over a 1/2 minute lead ahead of  the U.S. skier Adam Luban of Sun Valley in the men's race. Just behind in 3rd, was Canadian Para Nordic guide Graham Nishikawa of Whitehorse, with Lenny Valjas shortly after as the 3rd Canadian.

      In the junior event, local skier Sam Hendry came away with the win, just over 10 seconds ahead of Barrie XC's Finn Dodgson. Tom Stephen (Foothills/ULLR) was 3rd, another 15 seconds back.

      Sr. Men's podium

      Jr. Men's podium

      All results

      The skiers will now focus their attention towards the next top-level events on the horizon, the World Cup in Ruka, Finland Nov 24-25 and the Haywood NorAm, season opener in Sovereign Lake, Dec. 8-9.

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