An unprecedented number of Black Jack skiers are heading to Europe for the World Junior Championships after a winning weekend of skiing in Canmore.
Rossland cross-country siblings Rémi and Jasmine Drolet, and Kimberley native Molly Miller made the cut after winning their events at the Haywood NorAm World Junior/U-23 Championships Trials from Dec. 12-16.
“It was exceptional,” said Black Jack ski coach David Wood. “It’s the first time we’ve qualified three (skiers).”
The event will be 18-year-old Rémi’s second championships, as he attended the 2017 event in Soldier Hollow, Utah, but is Jasmine’s and Molly’s first international overseas event.
With Black Jack racer Julien Locke currently competing for Team Canada on the World Cup circuit and Remi a member of the National development team, the success at the World Junior/U-23 Trials speaks volumes for the Black Jack program.
“I think we nailed our preparation,” said Wood. “And I have good support around me too, so that always makes a big difference.”
The Black Jack skiers competed in three races, classic sprints (1.4 kilometres), skate distance (five kilometres for women, 10 kilometres for men) and classic distance (15 kilometres for women and 30 kilometres for men).
Rémi competed in the junior men’s and Jasmine in the junior women’s divisions. At 16, Jasmine is technically a junior girl’s division racer but had to race in the junior women’s division to be able to qualify.
“It’s her first year of eligibility,” said Wood. “So it’s exceptional. This fall she started to ski extremely fast in the Classic races, so she’s in the top junior in every Classic race she started as well. We hadn’t seen the Easterners but I thought the odds were pretty good.”
Jasmine won the classic long distance race, her first ever 15-kilometre race, to qualify. She was sixth overall in open women, beating women 20-plus years old, while Miller qualified by winning the five-kilometre skate race.
Rémi won his sprint race, which qualified him for the championships. He also came second in each of the other two races.
“His preparation has been great all year,” said Wood. “So I’m very optimistic for January. I think he’ll come up to an even better level than he’s at now.”
The world championships will take place in Lathi , Finland from Jan. 20-27. The team will leave Canada on the Jan. 7 to go to Norway for a pre-championships camp.
“It’s good for the (Black Jack) program and a lot of people work to make it happen,” added Wood.
By qualifying for the event, Rémi, Jasmine, and Molly also automatically qualify for the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer in February.
Having three athletes from the club qualifying is an extraordinary feat, considering that the Canadian team will be comprised of 10 junior and 10 U-23 athletes from across the country.