Rossland’s Black Jack skiers shine in Canmore

Geoffrey Richards grabs gold with teammate David Palmer takes silver at Westerns

Black Jack skiers put on a fine show at the Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships in Canmore on the weekend.

Close to 400 skiers participated in the event that saw British Columbia skiers win gold in seven of 10 categories and Black Jack skiers pick up multiple medals during the three-day event.

“We did quite good,” said Black Jack coach Dave Wood. “Across the board the team did very well.”

Former Black Jack skier Geoffrey Richards cemented his spot as one of the nations best junior racers finishing first overall, while Black Jack’s David Palmer picked up the silver.

Richards and Palmer finished first- and- second-place respectively for juniors in the Open Men’s 15 and 10-K classic, while Julien Locke narrowly missed the podium, coming fourth in the junior men’s 1.4-km free sprint while Richards claimed seventh.

Richards was selected to the World Junior Championship team after the trials in Whistler earlier this month while Palmer narrowly missed a spot.

“At the world junior trials he (Palmer) ended up ranked sixth overall and four were selected,” said Wood. “This year he’s been pretty solid in and around two to four in the junior category.”

Palmer’s specialty is the distance races as his finishes in the 10- and-15-K races indicate, added Wood.

Black Jack’s Jillian Reynolds replicated last year’s finish, collecting silver in the junior girls 5-K, as well as sixth in both the 10-km Classic and 0.8-km free sprint.

Teammate Susanne Fraser also won a silver medal in the junior girls 10-K and finished fifth in the sprint and 10th in the 5-K.

Former Black Jack skier Rebecca Reid finished seventh overall for junior women’s.

Shawn Degroot battled for bronze in the junior boys 7.5 km classic, fourth in the 10 K and sixth in the 1.2 km sprint

Daniel Merlo also had a good performance, racing to a third-place finish in the Midget Boys 2.5 km Classic and fifth in the 3.3 km.

Thirteen Black Jack skiers attended the Westerns in Canmore including young skiers like Merlo, Anika Nykanen, Megan Heximer, Robyn Locke, Michaela McLean, and Bronwyn Moore, who enjoyed a chance to ski in a major competition.

“We are a small club but one of the top performing clubs in the country,” added Wood.

Merlo along with Nykanen will represent the Zone 1 Kootenay Team at the B.C. Winter Games next month in Vernon.

The next stop on the Black Jack ski season is the B.C. Cup in Prince George next weekend followed by the B.C. Championships and possibly the Eastern Canadians in Ottawa.