After nearly two years without a race, four intrepid Bulkley Valley Cross Country skiers bravely stepped up to the line at the 2021 Western Canada Cup in Vernon at the Sovereign Lake Ski Trails on December 4 and 5.
The comprised Under 16 (U16) skiers Finley Gagnon, Catherine de Gisi, and Ava Wimbush, and Under 18 (U18) skier Chloe Williston.
These four are the vanguard of the Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club racing program. Together they faced cold temperatures and fresh snow to race against many of the fastest skiers in North America (and beyond) including racers from Ontario, Alberta, the Yukon, California, Washington State, Vermont, New Hampshire, Mexico, and even Brazil.
The wax team of Patrick Williston and Josh Wimbush spent hours on the course testing for the ultimate grip and glide, while both athletes and coaches were fed and fostered by unwavering parent supporter, Liza Hart.
On the first day of racing, Ava outpaced the international field to finish first in the U16 5 km skate race. She followed up on Sunday with a fourth-place finish in the 5 km classic race. Catherine was eighth overall in the skate race and top 20 in Sunday’s classic race.
All four athletes had terrific race preparations and strong starts, and all contributed to a cohesive, supportive team environment. Bulkley Valley alumni Greg Baxter, racing in the U20 category, also had impressive performances over the weekend.
Highlights from the effort included World Cup-level dancing on the start line, an epic finish-line sprint, and an intensive Taylor Swift discography session on the long drive home.
The next race is the Teck Northern Cup race on Jan. 2 at the Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club to be followed by a Provincial Cup race in Whistler on Jan. 15-16, 2022.