Academy Set for World Junior and Under-23 Trials
Jan 9th, 2012
Photo by Angus Cockney
Pate Neumann leads midway through the 15km skate race in Rossland
After a three week long break from racing, the team is preparing for the first set of 2012 NorAms. Returning to Whistler and Callaghan Valley, BC tomorrow, much of the team will be vying for spots on the World Junior and Under 23 Championship team, slated for Turkey in February.
Racing begins Thursday with the duathlon style races, consisting of a classic course, and then exchanging to skate for the last half. The team then has a training day on Friday to prepare for Saturday's skate sprint and Sunday's classic intermediate classic distance race.
Cross country Canada selected nine Academy athletes to the 2011 World Junior and Under 23 Championships in Otepää, Estonia and the Academy hopes to qualify more this time around. With fourteen eligible athletes, they will be gunning for the spots available, generally five men and women for both juniors and under-23.
Leading the team are veteran young-guns Jess Cockney, Graeme Killick, Heidi Widmer and Emily Nishikawa. In the final set of races before the holiday break in Rossland BC, Jess Cockney proved his form taking the Senior Men's sprint victory, edging out his competitors by more than a few meters. Heidi Widmer finished 5th in her A-Final, also being the top Canadian U23 skier. Graeme Killick's placed 3rd in the 15km skate race the following day in a sprint to the finish, and Emily Nishikawa was 6th and top Canadian U23 finisher.
Other Under-23 Academy athletes are Patrick Stewart-Jones, Matt Wylie, Gerard Garnier, Joey Burton, Annika Hicks, Marlis Kromm and Bob Thompson. Patrick Stewart-Jones, graduating to his first year U23, displayed his sprinting prowess in the classic sprint in Sovereign Lakes, finishing 4th in the A-Final. Marlis Kromm, entering her second year U23, has started showing off her sprinting speed this season, finishing 6th in the Rossland skate sprint, and 2nd U23.
The teams juniors, made up of Zach Holland, Rebecca Reid and Janelle Greer, are top contenders for this years Championships in Turkey. Zach Holland finished 3rd in the 15km classic race at Sovereign Lakes, and 5th in the sprint. Rebecca Reid and Janelle Greer have earned some top results so far this season, with Rebecca finishing 2nd in the skate sprint on her home trails of Rossland, and Janelle finishing 3rd in the following days distance race.
This weekend will be equally important for the older athletes, with points for the Overall NorAm Leader at stake as well as being qualifying races for an OPA trip overseas later in the month. In Rossland, Phil Widmer was forced off the sprint course with Matt Wylie after an aggressive quarterfinal heat, knocking both skiers out of the heats. Kevin Sandau, who is currently second in the standings overall, took the gold in the 15km skate race in Rossland adding to last weekends 15km classic victory, while Pate Neumann finished 4th. In the women's race, Allyson Marshall was 2nd, while Kate Brennan finished 5th.
Returning from Europe and set to start their first set of domestic races are Drew Goldsack and Graham Nishikawa. In his final weekend overseas, Drew finished 5th with National Ski Team teammate Len Valjas in the World Cup team sprint in Germany.
Keep an eye out here and on the Academy's twitter account for the latest race news from the trials.