National Championship Relay Memories
By: wayne (2005/03/10)
My first nationals were in Sudbury at the Voima Ski Club in 1979. I was 13, and the age groups back then were 17-19 and 16 & under, so I wasn't expecting much. I believe I finished around 11th and 13th. The memorable event there was the relay, not because of how I raced or how my team did (I can't remember who they were!), but because the weather had turned warm and rainy. The course crossed a lake, on which there had accumulated quite a bit of water, probably 15 - 30 cm deep. Adding to this challenge was the downhill approach to the lake that gave you quite a bit of speed before hitting the water. The result was a few watery face plants, although I stayed on my skis. I'm not sure today's TDs would approve of those course conditions!
In 1981 the Nationals were held in Campbellton NB, I guess not too far away from this years Nationals. That year I had high expectations, and won a gold and silver in the individual races. Back in the day, we had division relays. This meant Ontario was seperated into 4 divisions, while all the other provinces were considered their own divisions. For the relay there was some intrigue for NOSD (Northern Ontario Ski Division). We were the defending champions, with the team of Keith Dustin, Perry Sakki and Ari Niemi all back to defend their title. However the coaches decided to replace Ari on the team with me. So Ari and Perry went head to head on the first leg, with Ari in the lead at the exchange, but closely followed by a group of skiers including Perry. I took the exchange from Perry and was able to give a small lead to my brother Keith, who extended this lead for another NOSD victory.
In 1982 the NOSD streak was ended in Flin Flon by the home team Manitoba, but we did manage to capture the silver. I missed 2 nationals in 1983 and 1985 because they conflicted with World Junior Championships, but NOSD was again able to capture the gold in Kamloops in 1984. At some point in the late 1980's the division format was changed to a provincial format, to give the strong Quebec team some competition.