XC Ottawa racers took their first real tests of the season this past weekend at Sovereign Lake. I would say that overall we achieved a score of about B+. Not a bad start at all. In comparison to some of our earlier struggles at these early season races this weekend was a refreshing change!
Saturday involved the always entertaining and unpredictable Skiathlon event, consisting of a 5k classic and 5k skate for women, and 7.5k classic and 7.5 skate for the men. On this day, our women, to be fair, made more of an impression than our men. It was very encouraging to be about half way out on the classic course and watch XC Ottawa veterans Megan McTavish and Sheila Kealey motor up the toughest climb of the course trailing only National Team skiers and Tara Whitten of the Exel Racing team. It was also a blast to see Sheila take 8th place overall against the best skiers in the country. XC Ottawa rookie Eva Szabo showed some real toughness as well, floating through the soft snow on the skate course and passing all kinds of people.
Something must be going right. Positive influences would appear to be training and some great waxing courtesy of Vauhti, John Suuronen, and our sacrifice man of the weekend, Craig Storey. Thanks to some inclement weather the night before the event our planned-on waxing assistant was unable to make it to the race. This meant that with only John to wax 14 pairs of race skis we were, to put it mildly, in a bit of a bind. Craig decided that because these races were not his most important of the year he would help John with the waxing. While this did not prevent him from racing, it did prevent him from sleeping until a semi-reasonable hour and from doing any real warm up. We owe him something!
In the men’s race, Karl finished 22nd, Ed 46th, Pierre Olivier 63rd, and Craig 73rd. While the men’s team struggled a bit we were by no means uncompetitive and we don’t intend to have the women steal the show every weekend!
Day two brought us out for some skating sprints. While none of us would claim to be particularly suited for this event, we are always trying to improve. This day represented a certain step in the right direction. All three of our women (Sheila Kealey, Megan McTavish and Eva Szabo) qualified for the quater-finals. Karl had one of his better sprint days in a long time, making a somewhat rare appearance in the quarter-finals and possibly frightening a couple of sprinting specialists in trying to make it further.
The “travelling team” is now figuring things out in Canmore as we prepare for some very hot racing this weekend at the Nor Am event to be held at the completely revamped Canmore Nordic Centre.
For full results from the weekend go to: www.zone4.ca
Sarah Renner leads the women's pursuit race.
The chase pack with Megan, Sheila, Sarah Peters, Tasha Betcherman and others.
Karl with Sheila and Megan who are all smiles after a good race!