The National Ski Team (NST) named two Black Jack skiers to its arsenal of elite athletes earlier this month.
Black Jack skier Julien Locke will ski in his second year for U25 NST and Rémi Drolet, 16, of Rossland was named to the Junior NST for the first time.
Locke finished first overall in the season-long Buff Sprint Series, and captured gold in the 10-km Classic and classic sprint at the Korean National Championship. In World Cup events, Locke raced to 36th spot at the event in Pyeongchang, Korea and placed 20th in the skate sprint at the FIS World Cup cross-country ski championship in Quebec in March.
“It was an exciting season,” the Nelson native told the Rossland News. “I raced my first World Cup, so that was in … Korea and then I also raced the World Cup Final in Quebec and I had my best result in my career so far.”
Next year, Locke’s main goal is to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.
“To do that, I’m going to aim to go to the World Cup in the first period of the year, so that’s mid-November and then aim for some good international results to qualify for the Olympics,” said Locke. “It’s definitely an exciting season coming up. It’s a high-pressure season, but I like that.”
Locke had a chance to ski the same courses that will be used during the Olympics while he was in Korea this past season.
“It was really awesome to have an opportunity to race those courses and train on the courses and get prepared for the Olympics,” he said.
Locke will be training with Black Jack coach Dave Wood and participating in NST training camps over the summer, as will Drolet.
The 16-year-old Drolet raced to first in the U20 10-km classic at the US Nationals in Soldier Hollow in January, which qualified him for the FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championship, as well as the Canadian Junior Team.
For next season, Drolet’s goal is to go to World Juniors again and do well at the Canadian Nationals.
Locke is happy to have Drolet on the National Ski Team alongside him.
“It’s great to have two Black Jack athletes as part of the National Team program,” said Locke. “I think it’s a testament to our program’s success.”
“The Black Jack program is excellent and Dave Wood is such a great coach, because he’s got so much experience.”