More than 500 of North America’s top cross-country skiers will converge on the North Okanagan later this month.
The Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre near Vernon will host the 94th annual Canadian Ski Championships March 25-April 2, the second time the centre has played host to the national finals (1995).
The event, which also features the Para-Nordic national championships, will bring 59 teams from 12 provinces/territories and three countries.
“It’s the largest, highest-calibre annual cross-country ski event in Canada,” the event’s chief of media Dudley Coulter said. “In attendance, there will be past and future Olympians and World Cup skiers, national ski team members and national champions.”
The event’s media package says four Olympians will be attending (as of March 8), 13 past or current World Cup skiers. The list includes one of Canada’s most decorated Paralympians, Brian McKeever, who won three gold medals at the 2018 Paralympics in PyeongChang, Korea. He was won 13 gold medals across five games.
Former Vernon World Cup skier Michele Wolfe of Kelowna’s Telemark Club is also listed among the competitors.
Wolfe skied for the Australian national team and returned to Canada in 1992 to ski at a World Cup race at SilverStar Mountain. She skied for Canada at the 1993 World Championships in Falun, Sweden.
Leading the local contingent from the Sovereign Lake club is Hannah Mehain, 21.
Mehain recently raced for Canada at the FIS U23 World Ski Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, with her best result being 36th in the Sprint 1.2 kilometre final. She will compete in the Open Women’s Division on her home course.
Also representing the host club are Greg Kilroy, Gerry Furseth and Mark Sherman (Open Men); Emily Young (Para National Ski Team); Danica Ariana and Paige Latta (U20 Women); Emmanuel Bussani (U20 Men); Kristian Hove, Lucas Sadesky, Torin Andrews and Taschi Klaschka (U18 Boys); Carmen Macarthuer, Sierra Munroe (U16 Girls); and Evan Sadesky, Kaden O’Connor, Nate Hardy and Parker Munroe (U16 Boys).
Area skiers competing that are members of the Canadian national team include Elizabeth Elliot (Junior, Revelstoke); and Natalie Wilkie (Salmon Arm).
Athletes begin training on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 24 and 25, and races commence Thursday, March 26.
Races are held daily except Saturday, March 28. That is another training day.
Award ceremonies will take place each race day at 4 p.m. at the National Altitude Training Centre Auditorium at SilverStar Mountain Resort.
The Canadian Ski Championships are expected to generate an estimated $2.3-million revenue impact for Greater Vernon.