Local and international ski racers swarmed Sovereign Lake Nordic Resort last weekend for the Teck B.C. Cup and Haywood NorAm races.
For Swedish skier Jens Eriksson, it was his first time to Canada.
“I am very impressed with this area; it’s really, really nice,” said Eriksson. “You have a lot of snow and a lot of tracks. We have done really nice training days here.”
Eriksson showed spectators and his competition he is serious about racing by finishing 25 seconds ahead of the men’s field in the classic 15-kilometre race.
The senior men’s division demonstrated superb skiing technique as 80 competitors started out, with the teams sticking close together in the tracks and appearing to work together. On the second lap, the Swedish team had moved apart as Eriksson explained his teammates “were tired,” so he passed them to take the clean lead.
Many in the Haywood NorAm used the races as preparation for the World Cup series next weekend in Canmore, including Sovereign skier Matt Wylie, who entered the individual start race on Sunday. He now lives and trains with the Alberta World Cup Academy.
Senior women’s NorAm series leader, Brittany Webster, claimed Saturday’s 10-km classic.
“The World Cup is next week and for us it’s really important to put in a good hard pace from start to finish,” said Webster.
Vernon’s Heather Mehain, who also lives and trains in Canmore, earned 13th-place finishes in the 10-km classic and free events.
Racing is a family affair for the Mehain clan, as mom, Mae Hooper, raced in the masters Teck B.C. Cup category and younger sister, Sarah Mehain, competed in her first para-nordic race on Friday.
On Saturday, Sarah raced against sit skier Emily Suchy, who won her category in the 2012 B.C. Winter Games.
Hosting the Teck B.C. Cup provided an early start to the season for the Sovereign Lake program. And although it seemed the event was ambushed by the Canmore skiers, Sovereign did make a presence on the podium.
Podium results in Saturday’s classic mass start races: Hooper, second, Masters women 50-59 10-km; Sarah Purslow, first, Masters women 30-39 10-km; Trevor Embleton, first, Masters men 30-39 15-km; Hannah Mehain, third, Juvenile girls 15-km; Ian Oliphant, first, Bantam boys 2-km; Zoe Plummer, third, Pee Wee Girls 1.4-km; Annika Czenczek, first, Atom girls; and Mitchell Bond, first, Atom boys 800-m.
Sunday’s free races podium results included: Hooper, third, masters women 10-km; Hannah Mehain, third, Juvenile girls 5-km; Oliphant, first, Bantam boys 2-km, and Bond, first, Atom 800-m.
“The race could not have happened without the countless number of volunteers and their efforts to stand out in the cold for timing, marshalling, course preparation and award ceremonies, or inside making sure all of the results are tallied and people are fed,” said Sharon Clarke, chief of race.