Sovereign Lake Nordic Club and Vernon were well represented by eight athletes at the Cross Country Ski Nationals earlier this month in Thunder Bay.
Despite being one of the smaller groups of athletes, this mighty and determined group of skiers displayed some excellent skiing and results over the week. The high-school aged athletes train as part of the Snow Sports Academy, coached by Eric De Nys here in Vernon, while Hannah Mehain trains with the Okanagan Racers, a regional post-secondary team.
To kick off the week, Clara Hardy and Hannah Stocker, a German exchange student who skis with the Academy, competed in the Team Sprint event making it to the semifinals but not advancing.
The next race, a classic technique interval start, was part one of a two-part pursuit style race which took place over two separate days. Mehain took the gold in her category the first day, while others having strong finishes were Paige Latta, 11th, Lucas Sadesky 17th, Torin Andrews 25th, and Stocker 30th.
Start positions for the second race were determined by the results from race one, with each racer starting behind the leader according to the amount of time behind they finished the previous race, yet now on a different course and distance, using a different technique.
The ensuing excitement and scramble for position at the start of day two races in the close categories, where racers had literally finished tenths of seconds apart on day one, was nail biting to watch. In the second leg of the race, Latta finished an excellent seventh, Hardy 17th and Sadesky a strong 12th, with teammate Andrews 21st in their category.
Other strong finishes came from Mehain, in 17th and Ian Oliphant 22nd.
In the two-day event, Latta held on to seventh, Mehain ended up 12th and Sadesky was 13th. Highlights from the very exciting skate sprint were Oliphant taking 1st in the B final (7th overall), and Mehain with a bronze medal.
The final event of the week was a longer distance classic technique race; Sovereign’s top skiers for that race were Mehain with another bronze, Latta 10th, and Sadesky 13th. Andrews showed great determination while having to ski a portion of that race with a broken pole. After recently being awarded with the first-place aggregate in B.C., Sadesky was second overall at the national level for 2003 boys. Andrews followed in fourth, as well as third in B.C.
Mehain added another third in this category, as well as first in the college and university aggregate category, while Latta finished sixth nationally after receiving first in B.C. Oliphant was 13th, while tops in B.C., Hardy was 15th while third in B.C., and Madison Land was 28th. Danica Ariano, a local biathlete who also trains with the Ski Academy is currently at her national event in Charlo, N.B.