Locke reflects on Worlds, looks ahead to Nationals

The Nelson native will also look to reclaim his lead on the Haywood Sprint Series at the Nationals.

Now that Black Jack cross-country skier Julien Locke has had a couple weeks to process his U23 World Championship experience in Romania, he is content with the 16th-place result in the 1.3-kilometre sprint and is looking forward to finishing strong at the Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon Mar. 19-25.

“It was very disappointing not to make the final, which was my goal, but I know that I was able to ski at the level they’re skiing at,” Locke told the Rossland News. “In the men’s race there were at least three guys that have been on the World Cup podium. It was great to compete against that and be able to race those guys.”

Locke placed third in his quarterfinal and narrowly missed out on advancing to the semi-finals, finishing less than a second behind Finland’s Joni Maki who came in seventh overall.

Conditions were less than optimal for the World championships with warm weather wrecking havoc on the track. Snow was trucked in to set up a 2.5-kilometre loop so the event could go ahead.

“It was narrow and it was slushy and slow, but it was racing and the races went off without too many problems,” said Locke.

Europe has been hit hard by climate change with drastically lower-than-normal snow accumulation compared to past years.

“We went to Seefeld, Austria before going to Romania, and even there, there was only 10 centimetres of snow to ski on,” said Locke. “Global warming is hitting Europe hard right now and it’s not winter wonderland like it is here.”

Locke winds up his season at the Haywood National Ski championships in Whitehorse where he’ll compete in the team sprint, a two-person team relay, the 10-km classic, 15-km skate sprint and the 50-km classic. More than 500 of Canada’s elite Nordic skiers will compete in the eight-day event.

The Nelson native will also look to reclaim his lead on the Haywood Sprint Series at the Nationals, as Bob Thompson of Thunder Bay took over top spot in Locke’s absence.

“My goal is to go [to Nationals], win the sprint and get back on top of the Sprint Series and also to have some good distance races,” said Locke. “I think also in the team sprint we can have a strong team and get to the podium there.”

Locke was the top Canadian at the Worlds with Scott Hill finishing in 39th, Angus Foster 50th, and Jack Carlyle 56th. France’s Lucas Chanavat was the winner, with Sweden’s Karl-Johan placing second and France’s Jean Tiberghien third.

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