Nicolas Bennett won himself a bronze medal in the Alberta Cup races in Canmore, Alta., on Saturday.
A fine achievement, for sure, but he wanted more and he’s not ashamed to say it.
Bennett’s bronze came in the junior men’s sprint, where he ended up third, less than a second off the silver medal position and while he appreciates the two strongest skiers ended up winning, he said he knows it could have gone better for him.
“I’m disappointed, because I was so close to winning it,” he said. “My goal going into the weekend was to win the sprint race and I didn’t accomplish that.”
He came into the final with the second-fastest time after the semifinal and that’s what bugged him the most, he added.
“My focus is on technique this year and it’s going to take a year to see the gains in that area,” he said. “It was still a good race, though.”
Bennett also competed in the interval start race the next day as part of the team from the University of Calgary, where he attends school. He ended up fifth overall in that race, more than three-and-a-half minutes behind the winner.
He said it was another tough go and another missed goal.
“I wanted to hit the podium in that race and I felt I was capable,” he said. “I just felt like I was tired a bit after a long week of training before the weekend, but there were a lot of strong skiers in the race. I’m still super young and I know I’m going to get better.”
One thing Bennett said he wasn’t doing in the interval start race was not using his core enough, meaning his arms are doing too much of the work.
He also said he could be stronger in his double-poling.
“For example, on a downhill, you can go so much faster if you give one or two extra double-poles,” he said. “You’re going to be relaxed on a downhill portion and you won’t use too much energy so two more strong double-poles will get you 10 per cent extra speed and it’s free speed. It’s all about racing smarter and it will come with more experience. I just have to stay focused, because I will make mistakes, but the trick is not dwelling on them and learn the lesson from them.”
Bennett said he will be taking it easy for the next couple of weeks ahead of the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., where he’ll join Team NT’s boys team. He has the luxury of already having Canada Winter Games experience under his belt as he competed as a 14-year-old in 2015 in Prince George, B.C.
Now, he’s four years older and four years wiser and he said this experience should be a good one.
“Donny (Boake), Jack (Panayi) and I were all so young back then,” he said. “That exposure gave me a lot of confidence and this time, I’m looking for a solid top-10 finish, if not better.”
Bennett wasn’t the only Yellowknife skier in Canmore as three others competed in sprint competitions. Joseph Curran and Aksel Reed both skied in the midget boys sprints, where they finished 20th and 21st respectively while Shannon Mercer was 31st in the midget girls.