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Sudbury skiers, and Lo-Ellen in particular, dominate NOSSA Nordic
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It’s a sure-fire sign of just how mild this winter has been when the NOSSA Nordic Ski Championships scheduled for Naughton have to be moved north.

Not that this detracted any of the local or out of town contingent who made their way to the Windy Lake Trails in Onaping Falls on Tuesday, just one week after the Walden Trails had hosted the city (SDSSAA) meet.

“I’m lucky because I got to travel to Québec a bit this winter to race,” noted Lo-Ellen Park senior and member of the Walden Nordic race team Russell Joiner, who duplicated a comfortable win versus his Sudbury skiers with an equally comfortable romp with the Soo and North Bay crews on hand.

“They (Québec) have a little more snow (than we do) – but the Walden groomers have been awesome, out shovelling snow into the trails,” Joiner continued. “The trails are really good, considering the snow that we have right now.”

And in the week between SDSSAA and NOSSA, a good chunk of what was there disappeared, forcing the move to the slightly more wooded venue that runs alongside Highway 144.

The leader of what is once again a Lo-Ellen Park Knights nordic ski juggernaut this year, Joiner did not even get introduced into the sport until he reached the realm of coach Colin Ward (grade nine at LEP) – but he hasn’t looked back since.

“Skiing is my favourite sport,” said the 17 year-old who is considering attending Carleton University in September (Civil Engineering – and a highly competitive varsity nordic ski team).

“I like the training in the summer, long runs and bike rides. Skiing is a nice mix of strength and endurance.”

That said, Joiner also enjoys a well-deserved reputation within what is an extremely committed squad as an absolute training workhorse, something he says that he came by quite naturally.

“Both my parents are really hard workers,” he conceded. “My dad was a really good sprinter and my mom is a good hockey player. They wanted me to work hard and it’s paid off.”

Actually, a combination of hard work and the technical benefits one garners when dealing with truly elite coaching staffs at both the high-school and club levels. “I’ve really been working on geeting my hips up more to get my momentum forward, a bit,” said Joiner.

“I think I’m a bit hunched over right now but I’m focused on really getting my hips up and getting tall over my skis.”

Ivy Schulte-Hostedde might not have quite that same detail to technical approach given her involvement as a club swimmer dating back to grade five. But now that the grade 12 student at Lockerby Composite has stepped away from the pool, she is devoting a little more time to a sport in which she competes at the “high-school” level.

(SDSSAA – NOSSA – OFSAA events are all tiered between the Open Divisions which cater to the club skiers and the High-School Divisions which cater to the slightly more recreational crowd)

“I did lots of classic (style skiing) when I was younger, doing jackrabbits with Laurentian Nordic every Saturday,” reminisced the friendly and super talkative younger sister of Konrad (GSSC soccer – now 2nd year university in Ottawa). “Then I didn’t do it for a few years and took it up again in high-school.”

“That’s when I started doing skate skiing, which I find so much more fun than classic.”

“Skating is really fast and you just glide sometimes,” added Schulte-Hostedde. “It’s really therapeutic. I like to go out for a couple of hours at Kivi and just listen to the music. I just like it so much.”

Covering the 7.5km course in 31:40.20, Schulte-Hostedde would finish sixth, a couple of spots lower than her SDSSAA placement in a race in which she thought she executed her strategy quite well.

“I always need to work on not going out too fast in the races,” she said. “I always do that and it ruins my entire race. I think today (SDSSAA – Feb 6th) went really well because I was focusing on doing the first lap pretty steady and then work really hard on the second and third laps.”

“It’s a little tricky because it’s individual starts, so you don’t really know where you are compared to other people.”

In the end, Sudbury athletes would capture gold in seven of the eight NOSSA categories, with Lauren Pineau (Open – SG – Lockerby), Callum Wiss (Open – JB – Lo-Ellen), Owen Dobson (HS- SB – Lo-Ellen), Georgia Lepage (HS – SG – St Benedict), Gord Farell (HS – JB – Lockerby) and Tyla MacLeod (HS – JG – Bishop Carter) all joining Russell Joiner and Kate De Beer from Sault Ste Marie (Open – JG – Superior Heights) in the winner’s circle.

On the team side of things, no surprise that Lo-Ellen swept each and every division as the team readies itself for the OFSAA Nordic Ski Championships taking place at Lakefield College School (just outside of Peterborough) on February 22nd and 23rd.

Following is a complete list of the remaining SDSSAA skiers who cracked the NOSSA top five in the various brackets:

Open – Senior Boys
2nd – Austin Conroy (LEP) – 27:27.30
5th – Mattias Saari (STB) – 29:30.30

Open – Senior Girls
2nd – Maija Nener (LEP) – 27:51.10
3rd – Finlay Cuza (LEP) – 27:54.30

Open – Junior Boys
2nd – Olivier Tremblay (ESMC) – 16:10.30

HS – Senior Boys
2nd – Sam Rice (LEP) – 24.51.30
3rd – Corey Lacroix (LEP) – 26:43.90
5th – Ivano Gianfrancesco (Lasalle) – 28:20.80

HS – Senior Girls
2nd – Grace Thomas (LEP) – 28:31.40
3rd – Gracie Dale (LEP) – 28:35.70
4th – Misaki Diavolitsis (LCS) – 30:36.70

HS – Junior Boys
2nd – Grady Dale (LEP) – 18:16.50
3rd – Toma Corsi (LCS) – 18:26.20
4th – Raphael Belzile (ESMC) – 18:27.10
5th – Isaac Longston (LCS) – 18:39.20

HS – Junior Girls
2nd – Kalia Pharand (HOR) – 18:59.70
3rd – Megan Pineau (LEP) – 19:48.90
5th – Alex Hann (LEP) – 21:42.10

Sudbury Wolves