In the last two months, the local Black Jack cross-country ski team has achieved notable results in some of North America’s most prestigious races. For the last five years, head coach Dave Wood has worked with the team to create some of Canada’s top under 23 athletes. This includes Colin Ferrie, who is currently attending the U23/Junior World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, as well as David Palmer, who attended the event two years previous. This race season, the team has attended several high end races including the local Rossland Haywood NorAm and the Vernon Haywood NorAm in December, as well as the Bozeman, Montana Haywood NorAm and Western and Eastern Canadian Championships in January.
Results have been improving for the team in the last few years and this season has been no different. At the Western Canadian Championships in Canmore, Alta. both younger and older athletes achieved some of the best results of the season. Junior racers Michaela Mclean and Rémi Drolet obtained fourth and first place respectively in the five kilometre interval start classic race. Out of the senior racers, Julien Locke received second in sprints, and David Palmer and Colin Ferrie received fourth and five in the 20 kilometre mass start skate ski race (More results at www.zone4.ca).
Black Jack has also attracted many international skiers including Chiaki Yamamoto from Nagano, Japan who has been training with the team and attending Seven Summits Centre for Learning since September 2013.
“I love Rossland,” she said. “It’s not too small and not too big, and it’s really close to the skiing.” Chiaki explained that she was originally drawn to Rossland by ex-national team head coach, Dave Wood, and that he hasn’t disappointed her. “It’s a lot smaller than my Japanese team, but I like it,” Chiaki expressed when asked about her experience with Black Jack. She plans to continue to train with the team until she graduates next year, but hasn’t decided what to do after high school.
In less than two weeks, the younger skiers will head to Kimberley, B.C. for a low key Kootenay Cup race before heading to B.C. Championships a week later. Meanwhile the senior members will take a few weeks off to rest for the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C. from Feb. 21 to March 1. More news on the Black Jack race team can be found on their blog at blackjackskiteam.wordpress.com.