Last weekend, the Black Jack Ski Club hosted the Haywood NorAm/Teck Sprint series and the event went off without a hitch.
The event saw more than 180 cross-country racers come to compete in the Rossland leg of the event, which spanned both Saturday and Sunday.
Chief of competition Ian Sibbald said he was happy with the way the event turned out.
“The fastest skiers are winning, but it’s been close and that’s what we want,” Sibbald said. “The course has been good. We had 120 volunteers. They were all enthusiastic and enjoyed themselves.”
Sibbald said anytime you have a race of this size, there are always some small areas where one can improve, but to him, all the important things that happen with good racing happened over the weekend.
“We’ve had accurate results, the courses are good and racers are happy, which is the bottom line,” he said.
On Saturday, Foothills racer Jesse Cockney took first overall in the Teck Sprint 1.6 km intervals. Black Jack skier Geoffrey Richards placed second in the Junior Men 1.6 km Free ski. Richards is from Rossland but trains in Whistler. Knute Jansgaard took first in that category.
Richards, who raced both days, said it was a good race, but also a lot of work.
“The flats weren’t easy and the downhills you had to work for still,” Richards said. “I definitely made my move at the right time in all the heats.”
Jessica Diggins, from the U.S., took first overall for the Women 1.4 km Free.
Black Jack’s Rebecca Reid took third place in the Junior Women 1.4 km Free, just behind Maya MacIsaac-Jones in first and Dahria Beatty in second. Reid currently trains in Canmore. On Saturday, she was happy to be starting higher in the field, as she came in at a top seed position after her results the week before.
“It was kind of nice racing in the front,” Reid said. “I had kind of a tough go last season, so I’m building into this season and it seems to be working well. I was faster than I was last weekend and hopefully I’ll be faster next weekend. So I’m just looking forward from here for sure.”
Reid competes in both day’s events.
“As a female in ski racing you kind of have to be good at both,” she explained. “The men can kind of specialize more but for sure if you want to be competitive in women’s ski racing you have to do both, so I do both.”
Reid and Richards both have the goal of competing in the World Junior Championships, which are hosted by Turkey this year.
“That’s kind of the main competition,” she said. “Try-outs are in Whistler in the middle of January. So that’s the big thing coming up after this race. Then, after that, up, up and away. The sky’s the limit.”
She added that she is also aiming for the Olympics in 2014.
On Sunday, Kevin Sandau, who races out of the Foothills club, took first in the Senior Men’s category with a time of 34:54.8, with Brent McMurtry and Graeme Killick, both from Alberta as well, finishing second and third.
The top three were separated by one second in the 15 km race. Knute Johnsgaard out of Whitehorse took first for Junior Men, with Black Jack skier David Palmer taking second and Raphael Couturier in third.
In the Open Women 10 km, Jessica Diggins finished more than a minute ahead of any other competitor. Diggins came up from the states, along with teammate Jennie Bender who took third. Allysson Marshall took second.
In the Junior category, Dahria Beatty finished first, Maya MacIsaac-Jones second and Jenelle Greer third.
Black Jack Ski coach Dave Wood was happy with the event.
“The organizers did a fantastic job,” Wood said. “The snow was thin, but the tracks were first class and the mechanics and the detail were extremely good. They should have a pat on the back for sure. And then we had some good performances by Black Jack skiers.”
Wood said, however, that he was missing half of the local Black Jack racers, since eight of them were sick.
Given the high level of competition, Wood was happy with his team’s performance.
“A lot of our younger skiers did well for themselves,” he said. “It was a good opportunity for them.”
Wood also thinks some of the local team may make it to the World Junior Championships.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll get at least one. This team’s not very big and it’s the whole country,” he said.
“I would say Geoffrey (Richards) has to be considered a favourite after his fall start up, not just the Rossland weekend, but the Vernon NorAm as well, where he was on the podium both days. And Rebecca (Reid), she’ll be in the fight also. So there could be a few from the club.”