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Friday, May. 24, 2019
Next wave of nordic talent shines in Capreol
by Randy Pascal

Perhaps the next young Devon Kershaw is already in our midst.

There was certainly no lack of enthusiastic participants this past Friday in Capreol, as Stefan Skogberg (Walden Public) and a group of fellow elementary teachers welcomed boys and girls from grades three through eight to the scenic cross country trails in the northern railway town.

Racing in near perfect conditions, the kids were quick to demonstrate the skill-set they had developed, in the classic nordic style, along with their affection for a sport that so many view as a wonderful life-long passion.

“I started last year with Miss Norrie,” said grade 3/4 girls champion Hannah Cull from Cyril Varney. “She said that she would be doing a group, and I thought it would be fun, because I like running, and I thought I could be faster on skis.”

Though the results would suggest that was clearly the case, Cull noted that there are a few nordic-specific aptitudes that one must take into account when transitioning from the cross country running circuit on to the snow covered lanes.

“You have to learn how to use the poles and how to drag your feet with skis on them,” she said. “They get stuck in the snow. And in running, you don’t have to wear these really big shoes.” But with all of that covered, it was off to the races, with conditions garnering the full appreciation of both organizers and participants.

“It was a really good day to go cross country skiing today, because it was warm and the snow wasn’t wet, it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t getting stuck to your skis at all,” said Cull. Despite the positives, the ten year old student wasn’t taking anything for granted, lining up to start the event after finishing ninth in her age category one year ago.

“I thought I was going to get third or something like that,” she said. “I was thinking of going a bit slower at the start, but I decided to go faster at the beginning, and then in the middle, I kind of slowed down, but whenever I would see a girl behind me, I would go faster.”

Much like Cull, boys 3/4 race winner Jonah Gibson of Walden Public is happy for any time he can spend on the snow. The talented nine year old is one of the relatively small group of young athletes that enjoys competing both in nordic and alpine ski events, an active member of the Adanac Ski Club.

“I think I’m better at downhill,” noted Gibson, in spite of his first place finish in Capreol. “You get a lot of balance with downhill, which helps me in cross country. The poles are pretty similar, but the cross country poles tend to be bigger.”

And there are a few other key differences, Gibson acknowledged. “We (cross country) ski in the school yard on Mondays and Wednesdays. We do hills, which is harder than in downhill. You can’t really turn in these skis that well. I like downhill, because I can go faster.”

That “need for speed” apparently served him well come race time on Friday. “I really just tried to get out in front, so that I could try and stay there for the whole race, which I did.” Hot on his heels, however, was an all-too familiar face in the form of Walden Public classmate Greydon Digby.

“I got into second (place) right at the very beginning,” recalled Digby. “There was a chance I was going to catch him, but I knew that I probably wasn’t going to. It’s the exact same as a few years ago – I came in second and he came in first.”

If there was one common consensus between almost all of the skiers, it lay in their agreement about just much the state of the course would lead to enjoyable event. “The snow was pretty good,” said Digby. “It was like that snow that you can roll a giant snowball. When it’s soft and fluffy, it won’t work with the grip wax.”

Following were the top five finishers in each of the six race categories:

Grade 3/4 Girls
1st – Hannah Cull (Cyril Varney)
2nd – Charlotte Bertrand (R.H. Murray)
3rd – Addison Bendict (Walden)
4th - Ariana Gurlitz (C.R. Judd)
5th - Ella Dumaine (Walden)

Grade 3/4 Boys
1st – Jonah Gibson (Walden)
2nd – Greydon Digby (Walden)
3rd – Ryler Smith (Cyril Varney)
4th - Alex Vildis (Walden)
5th - Hayden Barton (R.H. Murray)

Grade 5/6 Girls
1st – Summer Pratt (Walden)
2nd – Valerie Raymond (Northeastern)
3rd – Finlay Kuza (R.H. Murray)
4th - Emily Carter (Walden)
5th - Julie Wiebe (Walden)

Grade 5/6 Boys
1st – Owen MacDonald (Walden)
2nd – Marshal Spry (Walden)
3rd – Kari Maanselka (Walden)
4th - Carson Dumaine (Walden)
5th - Eric Miville (Walden)

Grade 7/8 Girls
1st – Maggie Parks (C.A. Nesbitt)
2nd – Chandyn Bachiu (R.H. Murray)
3rd – Kalila Bachiu (R.H. Murray)
4th - Cecilia Anderson (C.A. Nesbitt)
5th - Kona Haas (C.R. Judd)

Grade 7/8 Boys
1st – Brandon Radey (Churchill)
2nd – Callum Bertrand (R.H. Murray)
3rd – Dawson Gurlitz (C.R. Judd)
4th - Connor MacLean (C.R. Judd)
5th - Ashton Moors-King (R.H. Murray)

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