FIS Nordic skiing: Black Jack skier bound for Worlds

Black Jack skier David Palmer took a giant stride forward as he qualified for the Canadian Junior National ski team last weekend.

Black Jack junior men’s cross-country skier David Palmer took a giant stride forward as he qualified for the Canadian Junior National ski team last weekend.

Palmer skied to second in the 15-kilometre free ski at the Haywood-NorAm U23 Trials at the Nordic Ski Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont., Sunday.

Palmer completed the three-lap course in 38 minutes, 45.7 seconds, 24.3 seconds back of winner Raphael Couturier of Quebec, and 16 seconds in front of bronze medalist Ezekial Williams from the Nakketok Nordique club in Quebec.

“It was a good series for the club,” said Black Jack ski coach Dave Wood. “David (Palmer) was really good . . . There were guys looking good that came into the trials that came up short, but I think that he kept focused on task very well and delivered on his strengths, and came out in the end.”

With the finish, Palmer qualifies for the Canadian Junior team that travels to the Czech Republic for the FIS Nordic World Junior championship, from Jan. 20-27.

Another Black Jack junior men’s skier Julien Locke narrowly missed qualifying for the Worlds with a fourth-place finish in the 1.4-km classic sprint and a 13th place finish in the 15-km free ski.

“Julien was really good too, he was fourth ranked but it was a really closely fought sprint,” said Wood. “It was inches from first to fourth.”

Black Jack’s Geoffrey Richards who now trains in Whistler placed 11th overall in senior men’s 15-km free ski, while Rossland’s Rebecca Reid who trains in Canmore also competed, finishing 12th in the senior women’s 10 km free ski and 16th in the 1.2-km classic sprint.

It’s the first trip for Palmer to an international event like the World Junior championships, where he will compete in a number of events including the 10-km free ski, the sprint, a skiathlon that combines both free-ski and classic techniques, and a 4×5-km. relay.

“A top 20 would be good, but it’s difficult when you’ve never raced internationally, you don’t know what to expect,” added Wood.

But the Black Jack coach is happy with the progress of the 19-year-old skier this season, as they look forward to a B.C. Cup race in Kelowna this weekend.

The Junior World Ski Championships are attended by 650 participants from 35 countries of four continents. Each country may register four athletes.