With the turn of the New Year comes everybody’s favourite, relaxing time: the world junior/under-23 trials. For the third time in six years, Thunder Bay played host to this climactic event. At this point, it shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone that temperatures in January in Thunder Bay are far from balmy.
Team Black Jack arrived on site a few days before the first races accompanied in their accommodation by some young, talented skiers from Telemark Ski Team who provided a positive atmosphere and companionship during the week.
Preparations in the weeks prior were varied for the team, ranging from racing the Kootenay cups in Kimberley for Scott, Colin, David and Daniel, to taking on the US Nationals for Julien where he earned a stellar bronze in the sprint. This proved exquisite preparation for his favoured race, the sprint, as he powered his way to his first NorAm victory stamping his tick to the Under-23 World Championships in Romania! Riding comfortably in the group for the downhill section of the course, he launched an attack up the massive climb that went unchallenged clearing the field by nearly three seconds over the nearest rival.
The “distance team” didn’t fare quite as well unfortunately. David posted a strong result in the 15km classic not far from the eventual qualifiers.
The morning of the final trials race, the 30km skiathlon, was greeted by a bitterly cold -26. Despite protesting we had a plethora of long johns, wind briefs, buffs and Vaseline; it wasn’t enough to permit the race to run safely. Due to the cancellation, the qualifiers were chosen solely from the one distance race and sprint.
There was certainly some disappointment within the Black Jack and Telemark camp though it was overshadowed when Julien was able to show off his spiffy new Team Canada clothing he would sport in Romania!
Next up for the senior squad will be the two day pursuit event at the NorAm in Mont St Anne, Quebec.