The race is on, but with a slight change of venue.
The Black Jack ski club will host the fastest skiers in North America this weekend as they get set to compete in the Haywood NorAm and Kootenay Cup nordic ski races. However, due to unsettled weather and low snow levels, the event Jury has moved the race to the Biathlon trailhead located seven kilometres north of the main Black Jack turnoff on Hwy. 3B.
Organizers anticipated the move, as Chief of Competition Ian Sibbald stated earlier in the week in a release:
“If needed, we will move the entire competition just up the highway to Black Jack’s higher elevation trail system at the biathlon site. The trails up there are at 1,450 meters and are in great shape.”
Close to 300 racers from across North America including Olympians from both Canada and USA, most of Canada’s National Ski Team, as well as Brian McKeever, the most decorated Winter Paralympian in Canadian history, will race in the two-day event. The results will also determine the Junior and Under-23 ski team that will compete in Kazakhstan at the World Junior Ski Championship this winter.
The Kootenay Cup highlights the best up-and-comers in the nation with visiting young skiers from Alberta, Washington, and Idaho.
“Last year’s Haywood NorAm that was hosted at Black Jack was recognized as having the strongest field of competitors of any race hosted in North America last season” said Black Jack ski coach Dave Wood, a former National Team head coach. “It’s an amazing opportunity for our young athletes.”
Promising Black Jack athletes include Julien Locke from Nelson, David Palmer from Revelstoke, Colin Ferrie from Kimberley, Scott Fraser from Saskatoon, Daniel Merlo from Trail, Chiaki Yamamoto from Japan, and Geoffrey Richards, Sage Robine, Michaela Mclean, Bronwyn Moore, and Remi Drolet from Rossland.
The move to the Biathlon course requires a few changes to the race schedule Saturday morning. The exciting sprint races will start at 9 a.m. with classic technique for the Open and Jr. Men and Women categories, while Jr. Boys and Girls, Juvenile, and midget events will now run a short interval start classic race of 5K, 3.75K, and 1.6K respectively. The elimination heats are scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.
Sunday morning will feature the grueling distance event, starting at 9 a.m. for the Open Women, at 10 a.m. for the Open Men, and 12:15 p.m. for all other categories.
Despite the move, the race committee has made a commitment to host the event, and with about 150 volunteers on board, is determined to make the Haywood NorAm-Kootenay Cup another run-away success.
“Black Jack has really put itself on the map for consistently hosting great events” said Dave Dyer, Events Director for Cross Country Canada. “Enthusiastic volunteers, great snow, great trails, top notch grooming, a strong race committee, and a very welcoming town – the perfect mix.”
Stop by the Biathlon trailhead on Saturday and Sunday for the highest level of cross-country ski racing in North America.
For full event details and course maps go to www.skiblackjack.ca.
With files from the Black Jack press release.