Black Jack skiers were inspired by the racing of some of the world’s best at the Haywood national championships in Mont Sainte Anne, Que. as the event finished up with its long-distance races Saturday.
“It was a good week for the club and a good week for the B.C. division,” said Black Jack coach David Wood. “We had tough conditions but overall we did well.”
The B.C. team had its best medal haul ever, with 20 podium finishes, placing third overall and second in the junior categories.
Considering racers had to deal with 17 C weather and organizers used nitrogen fertilizer to keep the snow from melting, the results were impressive, said Wood.
Members of the wildly successful National Ski Team including World Cup medalists Devon Kershaw, Quebec native Alex Harvey and Ivan Babikov flew in from Falun, Swe. earlier in the week just to close out the season at the nationals.
“Having Alex there, the interest in Quebec was huge,” said Wood.
By the final race, Harvey and Babikov were vying for the grand aggregate and it all came down to Saturday’s 50-kilometre classic.
Harvey and Kershaw stuck together most of the race, eventually taking a sizeable lead. As the racers headed out on their final 5-k lap, Harvey and Kershaw had over a three-minute gap on the chase group led by Babikov.
The pair kept up the pace and it looked like it would be a two-man race to the finish, with Kershaw seeking to avenge a former photo-finish loss to Harvey in the sprint.
As Kershaw of Onaping Falls and Harvey of Mont Ste. Anne entered the stadium, the expected sprint to the finish didn’t materialize. Instead, the skiers slowed down joined arms and skis to cross the finish line together. Their times were recorded as identical to the 100th of a second, 2:14:45.95, and double-gold medals awarded.
In other events, NST member Chandra Crawford won the Senior Women’s 30-k classic and the aggregate trophy, while in junior women, Black Jack’s Rebecca Reid had a great silver-medal ski in the 20-k race.
Reid headed a group of eight skiers that flew to the front, setting the pace early. Reid, Maya MacIssac-Jones and Anne-Marie Comeau of Mont. Ste. Anne broke away on the second lap, but MacIsaac-Jones of the Rocky Mountain ski club stretched her lead in the final 5-k to win it as Reid held off Comeau for the silver medal.
Reid finished strong this season, as she skied to second in the Junior Women’s Aggregate and first in the J-2 Aggregate. Jillian Reynolds of Black Jack cruised to fifth in 7.5-k race of the Junior Girls 2 division.
Black Jack’s Shawn Degroot also had a great showing in the Junior Boys, skiing to a bronze medal behind Scott Hill and Thomas Hardy in the 15-k event.
Geoffrey Richards of Black Jack finished a strong season with a silver in the Junior Men’s Aggregate and J-2 Aggregate. After winning the sprint, Richards finished with a sixth-place finish in the 30-k classic mass start. Black Jack’s David Palmer came in 14th in the race, Julien Locke 18th and Peter Locke 24th.