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2009-2010: Might just be our best year yet!
By:  Team XC Ottawa   (2010/04/22)

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Early Season Escapades

This year the race season started rather abruptly for us Easterners due to the lack of early season snow at our favourite training camp location, La Foret Montmorency. Karl and Megan headed out west first to do a frigid Alberta Cup in Canmore before the Olympic/World Cup Trials which started the following weekend in Silver Star.††They were joined there by Sheila and coach John.

The energy and tension†was high†at the Olympic trials and it was†exciting to be a part of it. As well as being the Canadian Olympic Trials, these races were also key for the Americans and therefore the fields were extremely tough. Megan started the season with a bang finishing as 12th Canadian in the first Olympic/World Cup†Trials race in Silver Star.†

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Megan racing at the Olympic Trials in Silver Star

The trio was joined in Canmore by Alana Thomas who wanted to get some racing in before Christmas as well as to watch some of the Olympic qualifying action. Karl skied a very strong 50km individual start classic race in Canmore, which was probably the toughest course and format he has ever raced! He finished up as the 15th Canadian in that historic race, which was won by Brian McKeever who became the first Paralympian to make an Olympic team. Sheila Kealey raced strong throughout the two weeks, her best result coming in the classic sprint where she was the 15th Canadian.

Midseason Recap: Valcartier, Vermont, OUA Domination and lots in-between!

After the early season racing out in Silverstar and Canmore, the diversely Canadian XC Ottawa team members took a short break from racing to enjoy Christmas at home and with family.  With some of us being in the Yukon, Newfoundland and Southern Ontario over the holidays we agreed Valcartier was a good central venue for us to reunite at and kick off the 2010 part of the race season with three races: a pursuit, a skate sprint and an individual start classic race. 

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Anna heading out in the classic race

Megan†kicked off the 2010 charge with an 8th place in the ladies 15km pursuit. On the menís side Colin Abbot led the way with a 14th place finish in the junior Menís 20km pursuit- pretty impressive in a junior field with over 70 starters! Sprint day was exciting as usual with some thrills and spills; Alana sprinted to 14th in the senior womenís course while Colin dazzled the crowd with a dramatic crash around the last corner in the quarterfinals. The final day of competition brought an individual start classic race consisting of several laps on short courses among hundreds of competitors, never a dull stride! XC Ottawa had another great day of racing made possible, just like all the other days, by a hard working wax team of John Suurronen, Danny McVicar, both Power parents and Graham Thomas.

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Matthias crossing the line in Val Cartier

Next up the Carleton contingent of the team hit North Bay for some Ontario University races. This was an interesting weekend as the first race was held at North Bay Nordic while the Sunday event was held on a single track classic course right on the Nipissing campus- quite cool! Main race highlight of the weekend was the Carleton boys taking 1st, 2nd, 4th,5th,6th,7th,9th,11th in the classic event, surely a sign of good things to come in the university season!

The Eastern Canadian Championships were held at Nakkertok this year and yet again Nakkertok hosted the big show with class and style. Heavy rain less than a week before the races meant that the snow base on the courses took a big hit but with many dedicated man hours spent shovelling snow back onto the track racers were treated to a well covered, exciting and rocket fast courses. Everyone on XC Ottawa skied personal bests this weekend and we ended up with a load of top 15 finishes and six medals between the short distance skate races and the epic classic mass starts.  As always, we had great help with a ski prep and feed team of Craig Storey, Frank Demers and Diana Deakin-Thomas in addition to our fearless leader, John.

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XC Ottawa girls on the podium at Eastern Canadian Championships

After Easterns XC Ottawa was hungry for more racing and so Colin, Kyle, Lee, Karl and Megan made the trek to Stowe, Vermont for a weekend ski racing carnival hosted by the University of Vermont.  They met some of the deepest fields of the year and turned in yet more impressive results. Megan grabbed 6th place in the 10k skate with over 160 starters and Karl grabbed 19th spot in the menís race with over 220 racers! The weekend was capped off with a well deserved visit to the Ben and Jerryís ice cream factory.

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Kyle double poling hard to the finish

After this weekend the team divided into a few different directions. Kyle travelled to Vancouver to volunteer at the Olympics (a great story of its own!) while the rest of the team competed in either the OUA championships or the Gatineau Loppet.

The 2010 OUA (Ontario University Athletics) Nordic Ski Championships were a season highlight for Matthias, Lee, Colin and Alana as Carleton had its best team showing in recent history. The Carleton men won the overall title (breaking Lakeheadís 5 year winning streak!) with both Colin and Matthias winning individual medals along with silver in the relay. On the ladies side Alana grabbed the overall individual title and teamed up with XC Ottawa alumni Zoe Braul and Adele Lay to win the relay for Carleton for the first time in many seasons!

Colin and Matthias racing at OU's

Gatineau Loppet Success. Meanwhile, the rest of the team was doing just as spectacularly in the epic distance events of the Gatineau Loppet. Sheila captured the win in the womenís 47km classic race while Anna skied to a fantastic 5th place finish in one of her favourite events of the year. On the skate day Megan skied very strong to win her first 47km skate title while Sheila picked up where she left of the day before, winning the 29km skate. Karl and Justin represented our XC Ottawa men well by racing to 3rd and 9th in the menís 47km skate. As usual our waxing secrets (Vauhti!) were a hot commodity among many over the week leading up to the event.

Karl skiing with the leaders in the Gatineau Loppet

Sheila leading the Women's field in the 49km classic (Natalie Madore photo)

In between these big events the team stayed sharp by participating in a few local races hosted by Skinouk and Nakkertok- these were loads of fun and helped us stay ready for the season finale: Canadian National Championships in the Yukon!

Team XC Ottawa pans for glory in the Yukon!

In March the team headed to Whitehorse to race against the countryís best skiers at the National Cross Country Ski Championships. We had some great performances! Here are some highlights . . .

In the team sprints, Megan and Sheila teamed up, make the finals, and finished up 7th overall - one of their best placings yet in this event. Fellow XC Ottawa team mates competed in the University relays with great success: Colin teamed up with Nakkertok skier Stephan Lloyd to finish first, and Alana teamed up with Nakkertok skier Adele Lay, for another impressive win.

Sheila battling it out with Chandra Crawford (Olympic Gold Medallist)

The team had many top 20 placings in the short distance classic and skate events. In the sprints, Alana led the women's team with a 13th place overall, and Colin finished 5th among the junior men. Some XC Ottawa members saved their best races for the final day (long distance classic), with Karl finishing 9th in the 50k, Colin finishing 3rd in the Junior Men's 20k, and Megan, Alana, and Sheila finishing in the top 15 in the Open Women's 30k.

Lee racing in the National's short distance classic race

And now we rest...

Overall it was another great year of training, traveling, racing and having fun for XC Ottawa. Thank you to all of our sponsors, supporters, families and friends who help us along the way. Enjoy the spring and we will keep you posted as the 2010-2011 season begins to unfold!


March Photo Shoot with Harry Nowell

 
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