Sovereign Lake Nordic Club teammates Paige Latta and Ian Oliphant (right) celebrate their bronze medals in the mixed open team sprint relay at the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Nationals near Ottawa. (Photo - submitted)

Vernon cross-country skiers capture Canadian bronze

Paige Latta and Ian Oliphant combined in mixed team relay to finish third at national finals

Eight athletes from Sovereign Lake Nordic Club travelled to Ottawa to compete in this year’s Canadian Cross-Country Ski Nationals, the same event the Sovereign Lake club will host in 2020. This annual week long event puts athletes through the various techniques and race distances with most participating in four separate events throughout the week.

What a tune-up for the home nationals.

There was a range in age groups represented with the team’s senior athlete, Paige Latta, performing strong throughout the week in the Junior Women events.

READ ALSO: Sovereign Lake hosts elite cross-country ski race

The first two events were the Classic distance followed by the Free technique. These events were combined at the end of the second day to give a Pursuit Distance award. Latta was strong and consistent throughout these events placing eighth in the five-km Classic on the first day and seventh in the Free technique 10-km the following day, giving her an eighth overall result for the Pursuit.

In the Free technique 1.3-km Sprints, Latta qualified 11th out of the 30 that are able to race in the heats. She needed to place top two in her heat but was dealt a tough group and didn’t advance. There was redemption on the Team Sprint day as Paige paired up with teammate Ian Oliphant and raced in the mixed open team sprint relay. They took a bronze in this event and were elated to have a podium moment at Nationals.

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The week rounded off with the long distance Classic Mass start. Latta had to cover 20-km and kept with the lead pack throughout the race and completed the race with a one-second deficit to finish fourth. Latta stated, had she made her move a little earlier she could have secured the bronze. It was a great finish for her week and she rounded out her nationals as the seventh place Junior Women in Canada for 2019.

She went on to Quebec to compete at the World Cup Rising Stars race on the Plains of Abraham. She entered the 10-km race ranked seventh and again was in a good position to be in the top-10 but took a spill going into the stadium which led to a 19th place result.

Latta was pleased with her year, has been nominated to the BC Ski Team for a second term and looks forward to another season of competitive cross-country skiing especially with Sovereign Lake Hosting 2020 Nationals on her home turf.

The Junior Boys representatives for Sovereign were Ian Oliphant and Taschi Klaschka. Their competition was fierce throughout the week.

Days 1 and 2 had the boys place in the top third of the group. On Sprint day, Oliphant made it through to the A-Final placing fourth overall. The Classic 15-km Mass start race was more of a challenge but they both finished strong. Oliphant has decided to turn his attention to travel next year as he graduates and moves onto to other life pursuits. Klaschka will be back to improve this year’s results for 2020.

Clara Hardy and Madison Land represented Sovereign Lake in the Junior Girls division. They were consistently in the top half of the results and were always placing within four spots of each other. They are both graduating this year and moving on to pursue their educational goals.

Torin Andrews, Lucas Sadesky and Pedar Ree were the final three, rounding out the SLNC team in the Juvenile Boys division. Ree was attending his first nationals and came to learn. The boys divisions always have fierce competition but its great to get your feet wet sooner than later.

Sadesky and Andrews traded position placements throughout the week. In the opening 10-km Classic, Sadesky was fourth with Andrews fifth. On Day 2 in the 7.5-km Free Skate Sadesky was sixth and Andrew’s seventh. They both qualified for the Sprint heats and Sadesky secured fourth with Andrews fifth in the A-final. They competed together in the Team Sprint relay and secured 10th in a field of about 60 teams. On the final day’s 7.5-km Mass start Classic race Andrew’s had the stronger result taking seventh and Sadesky finished 21st.

Overall the week was another success for the Sovereign Lake Nordic crew. Coach Eric de Nys was very pleased with all the efforts of all the athletes and appreciated the hard work put in by the support crew of Rick Latta, wax tech, Paul Hardy, assistant coach, and Michele Andrews and Heidi Klaschka as parent support . Next year’s Canadian Nationals, to be hosted at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, will be an event that the community can come behind and support.

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Sovereign Lake Nordic Club skier Paige Latta competes at the 2019 Canadian Cross-Country Ski Nationals near Ottawa. (Photo -submitted)

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