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XC Ottawa at the BC Championships
By:  Edward McCarthy   (2008/02/13)

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While most of the team had this past weekend off - the slackers, it's not like they're between Easterns and the Gatineau Loppet - I travelled with my adopted support network, the UBC Nordic team, to scenic 100 Mile House to race at BC Championships.

Pictures of the UBC team from this race, and from Callaghan Valley, are available here , courtesy of Chris Borchert.

100 Mile House is in the infamous interior BC. Among the things I learned this weekend is that towns along the Fraser River Canyon corridor (70 Mile, 108 Mile Ranch) are named for their distance from Lillooet, which was apparently a big gold rush town. Skiing and history are wonderful partners. Regardless, 100 Mile House, despite its comparative remoteness, has a pretty nice set of ski trails. The snow was virtually perfect, and the weather the same (a bit cold for BC, but nothing out of the ordinary). The 5k loop generally climbs up to about 3 km, where it turns into a long gradual downhill until about 750 metres out of the finish, where it goes into two steep uphills and then an uphill into the finish. The first 3 km is two more gradual climbs with shorter steeper ones in between.

UBC Nordic operates in a subtly different manner than XC Ottawa. Rather than booking somewhere to stay, the 12 team members who went split into four groups, each billeting with different locals who were, to varying degrees, friends of teammates (and many thanks to them!) This meant that our waxing facilities left something to be desired, so we glide waxed on Thursday, before leaving, based on the combined weather forecast. While not the best system - especially when the temperature ends up 15 degrees lower than projected - it certainly makes the race nights more relaxing.

The first race was a 10k classic individual start - one of my favourite races. In the event, I was happy to be grip waxing for -10 and powder instead of +5 and rain (Vauhti Carrot covered with Blue worked wonders, as always), though racing on my warmup skis with blue storage wax wasn't ideal. The field was pretty small, but included Silver Star's Cam Egan and the Callaghan Training Centre's Chris Werrell. Starting 45 seconds behind Cam, I did my best to catch glimpses of him on the course and try to pull him closer. The soft snow meant a lot of running up hills, but that's something I don't mind. We were pretty sure the final results would be close, and they were, but I managed to win, just 5 seconds ahead of Cam. The senior women's race was also won by a UBC/Ottawa area skier, Sarah Peters. She posted the second fastest women's time of the day, behind Junior NST skier Allyson Marshall.

On a side note, this race was the final segment of the BC Cup series. Winning, through a points system I try not to understand, left me the 2nd place senior man overall, behind Cam. Having XC Ottawa announced as my club name during the BC Cup award presentation was one of the funnier moments of the weekend.

The second day was a very well-attended skate relay, something which Ontario Championships could probably emulate with some success. Plenty of coaches put on a bib to complete their club's senior team, and Chris Werrell's two juvenile teammates from Omenica surprised the field in the senior relay, winning the official category after coming into the exchange ahead of many older skiers. Chris put in a blazing fast anchor leg to earn his team that spot. I raced on an unofficial relay team, made up entirely of UBC skiers with other club affiliations, and was lucky enough to have teammates Chris and Elliot put me far enough ahead that I could stay away from Chris. Sarah Peters again managed a win with her Strathcona Nordic team, making this BC Championships a pretty good weekend for both UBC, and Ottawa natives.
 
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