The Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club (BVCCSC) turned heads at the provincial Midget Championships last weekend in Kelowna. Despite being one of the smaller teams, just 12 skiers strong, the BV athletes brought home five medals. This shows the growing depth of the cross-country ski program in Smithers, now under the direction of former national team sprinter and BV Head Coach, Chris Werrell.
“The skiers performed to the absolute top of their abilities,” said Werrell. “In some cases that meant medals, in other cases that meant the achievement of personal goals and incredible effort.”
The annual competition is for skiers aged 9—12 in order to give them a taste of high level competition and encourage them to continue to race well into their teen years. This year, there were 208 competitors from around the province and Washington state.
The team was in agreement that the highlight of the event was the thrilling first place finish by Wet’suwet’en skier Travis Pete in the showcase 400 metre sprint event.
“Travis has been skiing since the age of four, but this year he discovered he loves pushing himself to the limit in competition,” said volunteer coach Amy Copland. “You can’t ask for a more focused skier. He has incredible technique and power for his age, but he also knows exactly what to do at each stage of the race.”
Other medal performances included a silver finish for Pete and a 4th place finish for Ethan Bucher in the classic sprint, as well as gold for Zoe Hallman and silver for Claire Lesawich. Other participants included Marco Bucher, Rachel Cuell, Rory Finnegan, Miller Kriese, Seton Kriese, Aiden Murphy, Jesse Smids, and Micah Weme.
Fellow skiers also competed in a BC Cup biathlon competition this past weekend in Whistler, BC. Biathlon combines cross country skate skiing with rifle shooting. Angus Tweedie,14 brought home a gold in the mass start, and Lowell Hug, 10 won two silver medals, one in the sprint and one in the mass start.
Biathletes hone their skate technique through the ski program at the BV Nordic Centre, and practice their target shooting under certified biathlon coaches at the centre’s shooting range.
Amy Copland is a coach with the Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club and a contributor to the Interior News.