Rossland cross country skier headed to worlds

Former Black Jack racers selected to national team

Rossland’s Geoffrey Richards was named to the Canadian Junior World Championship cross-country ski team Tuesday.

The 19-year-old made the team by virtue of his performance at the world junior qualifying races in Whistler last weekend.

The former Black Jack skier sprinted for gold in the 1.4- kilometre final at the Haywood NorAm trials and also took bronze in the 15-km race and fourth  in the 20 K.

Richards now skis out of the Callaghan cross country ski club in Whistler.

Dominating the selection were five skiers from Whitehorse, Y.T. and five from Alberta while Richards was the only B.C. athlete selected.

As the next generation of Olympian cross-country ski athletes, Richards will join 15 other skiers selected for the junior and under-23 team as they look to gain valuable international experience while representing Canada at the 2012 Junior and Under-23 World Championships in Erzurum, Turkey, Feb. 19-26.

“This is a young but experienced group of athletes who have made huge progress racing both domestically on the Haywood NorAm circuit and internationally,” said Tom Holland, high-performance director, Cross Country Canada.

“The talent pool of young cross-country skiers continues to grow, and these athletes are well-prepared to achieve excellence in Turkey.”

Rossland native Rebecca Reid also won bronze in the junior women’s sprint, while Black Jack’s Jillian Reynolds came in 18th and Susanne Fraser finished 20th.

David Palmer of Rossland placed sixth overall in the 20-km classic and third in his age group while teammate Peter Locke came in 17th and Julien Locke finished 11th in the sprint.