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NorAm Sovereign Lakes Race Report
By:  Sheila Kealey   (2011/12/12)


This year XC Ottawa was represented at the first Haywood/NorAm cup by myself and Matthias, competing with the Ontario team. XC Ottawa alumni Colin Abbott (Callaghan Valley Training Center) and Alana Thomas (Nakkertok) were also racing.

I love racing at Sovereign Lakes. Although these events typically rank among my poorest performances of the year (makes sense given the lack of time on snow, altitude, and a week of getting a lot of skiing in preceding the races) it's a great way to start the season. Iím convinced the block of focused time on snow and a break from work definitely helps my racing in January and February. Also, the race organizers at Sovereign put on a first class event with spectacular and scenic courses.

As usual, these races featured great competition, including a strong contingent of American teams, and athletes from the Canadian national team, provincial teams, and National training centers.

Saturdayís event was classic sprints on a challenging spectator-friendly course that included plenty of turns, climbs, and exciting loop over and under the stadium bridge to the finish. Although sprinting isnít my forte, I think itís great practice and fun to participate. I made it into the quarterfinal rounds, and finished 26th senior woman. Matthias had a strong qualifier, but not fast enough to make the top 30 in the competitive and deep menís field. The womanís race was won convincingly by the impressive Jessie Diggins (CXC), followed by Alysson†Marshall (Alberta World cup Academy) and Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers). The menís event was close, but at the line is was Michael†Sinnott in 1st (Sun Valley) followed by Brent McMurtry (National ski team), then Erik†Bjornsen (APU).

You can watch the finish of the finals: women Womenís Final; Menís Final, and here are a few pictures of the men's semi-finals. . . blurry - these guys are too fast for my camera!

Sundayís event was a distance classic race on a hilly 5km loop Ė 10km for open women, and 15km for open men. My second lap was not pretty, but I managed a 23rd place among senior women. Matthias had a strong 15km and finished 37th senior man. The womanís top 10 was dominated by Americans (top 6), led once again by Jessie Diggins, while the menís event was won by Kevin Sandau.

Matthias looking calm before his race

Matthias lapping though the stadium

Stadium/Start Area

A special thanks to Nakkertok for the waxing support, and congratulations to these local athletes for some impressive early season results finishing in the top 10 of their categories: Alana Thomas, Emile & Katherine Stewart Jones, Michelle Workrun Hill, Colin Foley and Ben Wilkinson-Zan (1st in sprints and distance!).† No longer local, but Patrick Stewart Jones (Nakkertok/Alberta World Cup Academy) had a great weekend - finishing 4th overall in the sprints (after qualifying 17th) and 15th in the distance event.

Also, a shout out to Colin who had a great weekend of racing (13th sprint, 20th distance), turning around his usual bad luck at these first races of the season!

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