Black Jack skier Remi Drolet will compete at the 2023 Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships at Whistler Olympic Park, from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5.
Nordiq Canada named six women and six men to the under-23 championship teams, and the same number for the Junior World group.
Athletes will represent clubs from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and the Yukon. The high-powered group of developing athletes include nine athletes who are making a return trip to the premier international event on the race calendar. All of them are competing in an international cross-country ski race for the first time in their home country.
“This is a young group with an exciting mix of athletes with international experience and first timers who are loaded with tremendous potential and drive,” said Chris Jeffries, high-performance director of Nordiq Canada in a release. “This group of athletes represents the future of our sport and share a common goal of achieving their performance goals at this critical event on the race calendar.”
The 10-day nordic festival will bring together the world’s best athletes ages 16-23 in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and nordic combined, and generate the same excitement and memories that brought Whistler Olympic Park to life during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
More than 700 athletes, representing 50 countries are expected to compete for the podium on Whistler’s ski trails and jumping towers.
Developing cross-country skiers Drolet and Xavier McKeever shocked the world when they helped the Canadian team win the nation’s first-ever silver medal in the relay event at the 2020 World Juniors. They are being counted on to lead the Canadian charge again in Whistler.
Drolet, a 2022 Olympian, has competed at three World Juniors, one Under-23 World Championship event, and represented Canada at the senior World Ski Championships in 2021.
McKeever will be making his fifth World Junior Championship experience at just 19 years of age.
Quebec’s Liliane Gagnon, who has been competing in her rookie season on the World Cup this year, will make her fourth trip to the event, and first competing in the U23 category. Anna Parent of Canmore, Marielle Ackermann from Kimberley, and Jasmine Lyons of Ottawa, will make their second appearances.
“Providing our young athletes with home snow advantage at a major international event will provide a critical test along their journey to represent Canada at future Olympics,” added Jeffries. “Just as importantly, our hope is that bringing these talented athletes to the west coast will also help foster Olympic dreams in Canada’s youth, inspiring them to try our sports and get on skis.”
The athletes earned their spot on Team Canada based on their results at the Nordiq Canada Selection Trials held last month in Prince George. Drolet finished third in the U23 Men 10-km interval start Jan. 21 at the trials, but did not compete in the sprint or the 20-km classic.
At Whistler, the U23 sprint goes on Sunday, Jan. 29 with the Mass Start 20-km classic on Tuesday, Jan. 31 and the 10-km individual, free ski on Friday, Feb. 3. The Nordic part of the championship wraps up Saturday, Feb. 4 with the Jr. and U23 mixed relays.
It will be the first major international event at Whistler Olympic Park since the 2010 Games.
*Early results were not available at press time.