Local cross country skier Julien Locke placed sixteenth in the skate sprint at the U23 World Championships in Romania.
He did well given that he was competing against some of the top cross country skiers in the world.
“In the men’s race there were at least three guys that have been on the World Cup podium,” said Locke. “It was great to compete against that and be able to race those guys.”
Locke placed third in his quarterfinal and missed out on the semi-finals by 0.1 seconds.
“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,” he said.
Conditions were less than optimal for the championships. It was warm and snow had to be trucked in to setup a 2.5-km loop.
“It was narrow and it was slushy and slow, but it was racing and the races went off without too many problems,” said Locke.
There wasn’t enough snow for skiers to train or warm up on, so instead they trained, warmed up and cooled down by roller skiing. Locke said that Canadians have been relatively lucky as far as getting snow, whereas Europe has been having consistently mild winters.
“We went to Seefeld, Austria before going to Romania, and even there, there was only 10 cm of snow to ski on,” he said. “Global warming is hitting Europe hard right now and it’s not winter wonderland like it is here.”
Locke will finish off his season at the National Championships in White Horse where he’ll compete in five races: the team sprint, a two-person team relay, a 10-km classic, a 15-km skate sprint and a 50-km classic.
Before leaving for Romania, Locke was the sprint leader for the NorAm Sprint Series, but while he was away he missed the Westerns where Bob Thompson bumped him into second. At Nationals, he’ll have the chance to reclaim the top spot.
“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.”