Another major ski event, another podium result for Yellowknife.
This time, it was double the fun as Nicolas Bennett and Moira Green took medals at the Haywood Eastern Canadian Championships in Ottawa, which wrapped up on Feb. 4.
Bennett won silver in the junior boys prologue 3-kilometre classic race on Feb. 3 while Green snagged a bronze medal in the midget girls 2004 class 6-kilometre mass start the next day.
Bennett, who competed at the Hayood Western Canadian Championships last month in Red Deer, Alta., said he’s very happy with a silver medal but there’s always room for gold.
“I was so close to first,” he said. “I’m good with how I raced but if it was a mass start, I could’ve won it.”
As Bennett eluded to, the race wasn’t everyone starting together but an interval start with skiers leaving the start line every 15 seconds.
Easier to figure out how you’re doing when it’s a mass start, said Bennett, but an interval start can cause a skier to wonder.
“Your mind begins to wander a bit,” he said. “If it’s a mass start, you can see everyone and you can tell how far behind you are. You can tell everyone else is hurting and you can pace yourself better. The interval start means you’re guessing.”
Bennett also nailed down a ninth place finish in the junior boys 10-kilometre mass start classic race along with an 11th place result in the junior boys 7.5-kilometre free technique interval start.
When it comes to Green, she had a weekend of top-10 finishes to go along with her bronze medal. She was sixth in the midget girls 3-kilometre classic interval start and a seventh place finish in the midget girls 5-kilometre free technique interval start.
In fact, several skiers who made the trip ended up with finishes in the top half of their divisions, which was music to the ears of Shawne Kokelj, NWT Ski’s secretary.
Kokelj made the trip to Ottawa with the team and said the results were wonderful ahead of the Arctic Winter Games.
“It’s great to see,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work on behalf of the athletes and coaches and hopefully, it will bode well for them when they race on home turf.”
The weather was up and down in Ottawa with below-average cold on day one and near-zero visibility on the final day.
“The conditions were very challenging but everyone worked their butts off,” said Kokelj.
Bennett will be racing at the AWG, his last one as an athlete, but he has a different goal in mind. He’ll be heading to the Ski Nationals in Thunder Bay, Ont., in March, which falls exactly a week before the AWG gets going.
“That’s my goal,” he said. “It’s good to see where I am going into that.”
Problem is the AWG starts the day the nationals finish, which means Bennett will have to fly home before everything ends in Thunder Bay.
“I’ll be missing the 15-km race at nationals,” he said. “It’s going to be a tiring time because I fly home from nationals and go right into the Games. I won’t be sleeping much.”