Last weekend two XC Ottawa skiers, Megan and Dave, travelled to Sudbury to represent Carleton University at the Ontario University Championhips. The races took place at Laurentian University on some fun, challenging and well groomed trails. In the summer of 2002, Robert Hanson designed and cut a new trail, known as Sophie's Loop, which was used in both days of racing. This loop was made in memory of Sophie Manarin, a former Laurentian and Junior National Team skier who was involved in a fatal accident while riding her bike in the summer of 2001. It is a great loop with lots of twists and turns, ups and downs. I'm sure Sophie would have loved skiing on it and it is a nice way to remember her. As well, Mr. Hanson and Robert Godwin did a very good job of grooming, so that the windblown soft snow Dave remembers from high school were replaced by impecably groomed trails.
The first race was a 12km Classic for the men and 6km for the women on Saturday morning. Under the eye of race volunteer, and XCOTTAWA supporter, Randy Storey the 47 men and 52 women were started. The men's race was tight and was eventually won by Ed McCarthy of Carleton, 2 seconds over Jeff Seguin of Lakehead and 5 seconds on Dave, who was 3rd. Charles Curtis of Waterloo skied well and was 1 second off of 3rd. Ed was very impressed with the trails, their flow and maximization of the terrain. In the women's race, Megan won by 25 seconds over Emily Hayman of Lakehead who was closely followed by Magi Scallion (Queen's) and Rena Bode (Lakehead). At the end of the first race, Carleton was ahead in team points for both men and women , but not by much!
Saturday afternoon was a classic relay. After leg one (5km long), Skeets Morel of Carleton and Rob Bewick of Laurentian were together in the lead, with Waterloo close and Lakehead in fourth. Ed McCarthy then blew the race apart on leg 2, handing Dave a 45 second lead on Waterloo. This was not difficult to maintain though Charles Curtis skied well to hold second place and gain 20 seconds on the lead. The course was a hilly one and involved skiing the trail backwards, so noone had raced it before. In the women's race, Lakehead took the lead right from the start and kept it till the end. Second, third and fourth were close throughout the race and it all came down to the last leg. Megan skied for Carleton and took off together with Andrea Dupont from Waterloo and Magi Scallion from Queen's hunting them down. It came down to a sprint finish with Andrea coming out ahead and Carleton getting the bronze medal. Being such a short race (2.5 km legs) it was quite exciting! Carleton remained in the lead for the men's points but Lakehead took over the women's side by 3 points over Carleton with 3 other teams within 7 points for 3rd to 5th.
Sunday morning was the 15km skate for the men and a 12 km skate for the women. Skiers were tired, so anything could happen. Dave was the rabbit of the day and managed to keep the lead until Steve Hart of Trent came by. He won the race by 18 seconds over Dave who was 2nd, with Rob Bewick of Laurentian 21 seconds behind Dave in 3rd. After Rob there was a minute to 4th place. In the women's race, Megan raced hard to try and catch Emily Morel from Laurentian, who started 30 seconds ahead. This cat and mouse race worked to the advantage of both skiers and Megan finished with the fastest time with Emily in 2nd while Allison Godwin of Laurentian rounded out the podium.
When it was finally time to count up the school points, Carleton came out on top for both men and women, however on the women's side it was by a mere 3 points over Lakehead. Megan and Dave also both won the individual overall titles for the weekend. All in all, it was a great weekend for both Carleton and XC Ottawa and fun was had by all! Its great to see such a competitive University Championships, now we're all looking forward to Nationals in Charlo!