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Haywood NORAM Cup Valcartier - Wrap Up and More Pictures
By:  Edward McCarthy   (2007/12/18)

The early season round of NORAM Cups ended this weekend at CFB Valcartier's Myriam Bedard centre. The races were a continuous pursuit and a mass start classic, an energetic end to three weeks of tough racing for a big part of the travelling circus that is the Canadian ski racing community, including XC Ottawa. Megan, Karl, and Sheila, in particular, have made it to all of the races so far, and John has been there with them. This time, Brian and Judy joined us, not only for old times' sake but as a power pair of wax techs to help out John.

Valcartier's always a great place to ski, and this year is no exception. Some may be familiar with the unbelievably amazing winter the East is having, ensuring that there is no shortage of snow anywhere. The only complaint to be made about Valcartier, and indeed anywhere we race near Quebec City, is the temperature. FIS rules stipulate that races may not be started if the temperature is below -18 C at the coldest part of the course. In my decade or so of travelling to races, I have had more races cancelled or delayed due to cold in Valcartier than at every other venue put together (including National Champs 2002 in Canmore, for those who keep records). Saturday was cold. Really cold. Having paid lip service to jury meetings to discuss a race delay, the continuous pursuit went ahead at 9:30 for the Open men as scheduled, with a temperature of -18 in the stadium and -23 at the top of the course. Grumbling in the pack was widespread, but we all went anyway. Despite the cold, the XC Ottawa women were at the top of their game, turning in top-notch performances across the board, despite Megan's dire frostbite to the earlobes.

Sunday's race was set up for a different kind of excitement. The cold had somewhat abated, but the infamous blizzard had rolled in by the time the start went. Fortunately, little is more fun than racing in a blizzard, and the wax team did a phenomenal job on our skis. Our consensus is that XC Ottawa had the best skis on the course on Sunday. The men raced a mass start 10km and the women 5km classic. The short distance, competitive field, and snow in the tracks made for an exciting, tactical event. Karl led XC Ottawa's men, skiing in around 10th place, but quickly fell to 15th after a tumble in the pack on a downhill near the finish. Megan and Sheila raced well, finishing in a tight pack of American skiers scrambling for position competing for one skied-in track to the finish in 9th and 10th position (4th and 5th Canadians). Alana also skied an excellent race, finishing 15th overall, and first Canadian Junior woman. Megan was selected for the random doping control and realized how hard it is to pee on demand after a race! In the immortal words of Lakehead's Anna Crawford: "I have to wait; the bathroom's closed for five minutes because of Megan."

Driving home was another adventure altogether, but we made it home safe and sound to our very own winter wonderland! Many many thanks to John for putting up with us for the last three weeks (he gets to sleep in this week) and to our various wax techs - Brian and Judy were, as always, indispensable.

Full Results

Pictures from Sunday's Mass Start Classic Races . . .

Start of men's race

Mass start mayhem behind Karl

Megan, a woman who wears many hats, treating her frostbitten ears

And here are some extra pictures from Saturday's pursuit (courstesy of Stephane Barette of Cross Country Canada)

Interesting Reading. . .
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