Lappe Nordic Ski Centre is
in immaculate shape heading into the Canadian National Championships
which start Sunday March 5 with the junior, open and university relay
races. Lappe Nordic Centre has a great history of hosting big races,
including the Canadian Senior Nationals in 1997 and the Canadian Junior
Championships in 2000. It is argued by many to have the best trails
and grooming in Canada, and the conditions over the past couple of days
certainly strengthen that argument. Both skating and classic tracks
are in great shape and the weather over the next few days looks conducive
to fun skiing. Evening low temperatures have been close to –20, with
beautiful sunshine warming things up to about –5 during the warmest
part of the day. There is lots of snow that is new enough to be clean
while still being old enough to be fast. Everyone has their fingers
crossed for more of the same in the coming days.
The Nationals promise to be
exciting, with the majority of Canada’s very best skiers in attendance.
The only skiers missing would appear to be the small group of National
Team skiers including Canadian Olympic medallists Chandra Crawford,
Beckie Scott and Sara Renner who are continuing to follow the World
Cup Circuit. I guess we can forgive them for that!
Following the relays are individual
classic races on Tuesday (short distance), mass start skate races on
Wednesday (medium distance), skate sprints on Friday and mass start
classic races on Sunday (long distance). The sprint races should be
very exciting featuring what is rumoured to be a fairly innovative course
in a downtown location.
The club relay event has been
gathering steam since its beginning in 2001 and has acquired a certain
amount of prestige. In fact, some athletes at this year’s nationals
are only in attendance because they are members of relay teams and have
been coaxed out of retirement by team mates with a thirst for a precious
medal in the club relay ( for an example, check out the Soo Finnish
team of Adam Kates, Brady Dunne and Chad Yurich. Only Adam has raced
at the National level in the past two or three years!) It is reminiscent
of what is often found in Scandinavia, where being a member of the club
relay team is goal worthy of serious training and sacrifice.
We’ll keep you as up to date as possible with race reports following every race in Thunder Bay.