Sunday's NorAm skiathlon was highly anticipated by many. As the final event for the Olympic/U-23/Junior trials in Canmore, a lot was on the line for athletes who have been training for a spot of Canada's Olympic team for years, and for younger athletes aiming to secure a birth on the Junior and U23 teams for the World Championships in Italy. Wax techs had extra work, since skiathlons require two pairs of skis per athlete. Race organizers also put in extra time, laying out a stadium with exchange boxes, multiple lap lanes, and accommodating a number of mass starts for the various races.
As all races in Canmore this week, the event was flawlessly organized, and delivered exciting finishes by some of Canada's fastest skiers. The women's 15km race saw a close battle between Amanda Ammar, Britanny Webster, and junior Anne-Marie Comeau. Disappointed by her performance in the 10k classic on Thursday, Amanda gave it everything she had and won the event. Sadly for Amanda, this wasn't enough for the final distance spot on the Olympic team, which went to Emily Nishikawa who won Thursday's 10km event. XC Ottawa's Sheila Kealey and Holly Jones toughed it out for 17th and 18th position.
Sheila on her final skate lap
The men's race was won convincingly by Fort McMurray's Graeme Killick who earned the final distance spot for the Olympic team. XC Ottawa had some strong performances, with Steffan Lloyd getting faster with every race, finishing 17th, Riel Allain 41st, and Matt Brown 43rd. Steffan also won the skiathlon's "third" event - the transition from classic to skate skiing.
It was a tough but impressive week of racing at altitude on challenging courses. The Canmore organizers put on an incredible event. XC Ottawa had excellent wax support all week from John Surronen, Anna Geiger-Whitlock, and Mike Vieira, using Vauhti waxes.
Star wax tech Anna GW and Ingrid on a training day