Fourteen skiers from the Bulkley Valley Nordic cross-country ski team were part of the 600 skiers gathering from 22 clubs from across B.C., Alberta, Washington state and Idaho on March 1-3 at Larch Hills Nordic Centre near Salmon Arm, B.C.
For our BV team, over half of our participants had not raced at such a large provincial event before, and so it was an incredible experience to throw themselves into the championships. Everyone fared very well for themselves, even though the competition was strong. There were three days of racing: Friday was a mass start classic race, Saturday was the interval start freestyle (skate-skiing), and Sunday were the team relays.
Our best boy was 15-year-old Gregory Baxter, who has been committed to a thorough training program and achieved a gold medal in Juvenile 2 Boys skate, leading the way with over 17 seconds between him and the nearest racer. He also placed fourth in the classic race the day before.
Our youngest skier, six-year-old Adelie Dumais also had great races, placing third in both classic and skate races in the Atom Girls 2 category. She kept a smile on her face the whole time and helped the rest of the team stay silly in the lodge. We had a couple of other top 10 finishers: Ava Wimbush got eighth in the Midget Girls 1 3.75 km skate race, and Chloe Williston, recovering from a bad cold, got 10th in her classic Midget Girls 2 4.6 km race.
Other athletes who placed in the top 20 of their divisions were Jesse Wimbush, Ari Rath Jenne, Zephyr Dumais, Catherine Degisi, Darah Gillis, Hayden Gillis and Caedmon Dunbar. Just shy of that benchmark, and still skiing with gusto were Nick Schley, Ronan Nisbet and Caitlyn Gillis.
The relay races were fun and challenging, with the transition zone a flurry of activity as the teams sped through and tagged their partners. In Midget Girls, our BV Sparkles team of Chloe Williston, Catherine Degisi and Ava Wimbush got 10th. Two other of our Midget Girls, Darah and Caitlyn Gillis, joined with Caledonia skier Mya Blackburn as team “TBA” and placed 14th. In Midget Boys, our BV Nitro team of Zephyr Dumais, Nick Schley and Ari Rath Jenne raced to 16th place and our BV Aliens team of Ronan Nisbet, Hayden Gillis and Jesse Wimbush got 27th.
Acting head coach Patrick Williston led the charge, helping tremendously to guide our kids through the ins and outs of preparing physically and mentally for such a big race. He was assisted by coaches Josh Wimbush and Melanie Dumont. Their encouragement for our racers was a monumental factor to help to keep them on track and ready for the challenge.
Our wax technician team was on their game too. Led by Mark Gillis, with help from Patrick Dumais, Joe Degisi and Alan Baxter, the waxers worked with dedication to aim to bring the best glide and grip to our skiers, and were among the most in tune to the onsite conditions. It really is amazing the network of efforts needed to support the ski team.
On the same weekend, the biathletes were competing in BC Cup 5 in Kelowna. Claire Lesawich came in fourth in the Youth Women and Miller Kriese got seventh in the Senior Boys. Claire has been representing Bulkley Valley on the Biathlon BC Cup circuit and is currently ranked first in her category. She is now preparing for Canadian Biathlon Nationals which take place later this month.
Next up, the Juveniles and Junior racers are off to the Nationals in Quebec. And locally, we’ve got the Wetzin’Kwa Loppet on March 16, with the pasta potluck and dessert auction the night before at the lodge on March 15 to build up your energy reserves.
Anyone can attend the dessert auction and can register to race anywhere from 1 to 54 km in skate or classic categories. See the club’s website at bvnordic.ca.
–Submitted by Perry Rath.