Preface- the best way to follow-up to the minute nationals coverage is to check out my twitter account….@piratepav. I’ve managed to tweet pretty regularly this week so if you’re really wringing your hands for up to the minute coverage- that’s where you should look.
March 19th- Short Distance Individual Start Classic
Nationals in Mont Saint-Anne yesterday were pretty stellar for Ontario, especially for the athletes of the Thunder Bay Development Center. Somppi finished 3rd in Open Men 22sec behind Babikov. Dudley finished 7th and Harry finished 9th. Nick Monette was the 4th Junior Man. Erin Tribe was the 4th Canadian Senior Woman and Alannah MacLean was the 4th Junior Woman. As head coach Eric Bailey said, “It’s pretty much the best day we’ve ever had.” It definitely felt cool to be part of that success [however marginally- ski scrapers and course cheerers count!]
As a whole Ontario did fairly well in the short distance classic race. As our resident number cruncher Doug Winter pointed out,
“Yesterday was a better day than the same day last year in Canmore, for Ontario.”
Sweeet! Things are looking up gang!
A highlight for me was watching the Juveniles race [even though at that point I was about 5h deep into race watching]. The Juvi’s were dealt a hard card with their course, having to do the toughest part of the Juniors 5km course not once, but two times [2x2.5km]. Plus I was SUPER proud to watch my little brother-from-another-mother [my adopted family] in his first nationals race.
March 20th- Medium Distance Individual Start Skate
Today was a slog in the true sense of the word. At 7:00am it was tshirt weather. Things just got hotter and wetter from there. Almost everyone unequivocally named today the hardest race of their career. The course was tough and while the first lap went well, athletes found their skis gummed up and slowed down pretty hard by the 2nd and 3rd lap. Plus, did I mention it was hot?
The VERY COOL thing about today’s Open Men’s race was that the Canadian Men’s National Team [Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Len Valjas and Ivan Babikov] were all fresh off the World Cup and ready to participate. This didn’t used to be such a big deal- but given their recent success- our boys were literally racing the best in the world. Big deal.
Highlight for me? Listening to the men- who’d clearly had their butts KICKED by the course [so hard] bubble about when Devon, Alex, Len or Ivan passed them on the course. One dude even turned to me MID-RACE while he was behind Devon and mouthed “this is so CRAZY!”
Ontario again had some really stand out performances. Kiera Niemi of Nakkerok was the 3rd Canadian in the Juvenile Girls field. In Junior Boys Evan Palmer-Charrette of Lappe came 2nd and Ben W-Z of Nakk came 3rd.
Right now there are definitely some ‘performance gaps’ for us Ontario-ites. There are athletes that I know- if things came together, could do really well over the next few days. It reminds me of the expression about water…at 211 degree’s it’s hot. At 112 degrees it changes its state and becomes boiling. Right now we’re on the brink of that 1 degree. Let’s find it gang- and burn the crap out of the rest of this week!