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Walden Cross-Country welcomes Ontario Cup racers

There's really no telling just how many more weekends the provincial nordic ski elite who compete on the Ontario Cup circuit will be able to squeeze in.

Last weekend, the crew that included athletes from right across the north as well as Ottawa and Central Ontario gathered in Naughton as Walden Cross-Country hosted Ontario Cup 5 on Saturday and Sunday.

After placing fourth in the U18 Female 3.3km race – Walden Nordic skier Lauren Pineau took first with a five second win over Elle Waite from Hardwood – Ottawa native Jaime Harrington strutted her stuff in the longer distance event, posting a comfortable 16 second win in the 10km grouping, well ahead of Nakkertok teammate Bronwyn Parker.

“At the start, I was honestly not sure if I would catch up to the leaders but the girl behind me passed me and she was really gunning for it,” noted Harrington of the staggered start race. “I got on her tail and just stuck with her.”

It’s just the latest step forward for the senior at Lisgar Collegiate who is eyeing post-secondary studies next year on the West Coast (either University of Victoria or UBC).

“I’ve been skiing all of my life but have gotten more into it the past two years,” she explained. “This is kind of my big year. This is my last year as a high-school skier so I wanted to see how far I can take it. I got on Team Ontario this summer and have been training hard all season.”

“It all came together today.”

Despite her background in the sport, which is plentiful - "I've been skiing all my life - but have gotten more into it in the past two years" - Harrington was taking to the local trails for the very first time, providing a stamp of approval on the course.,/p>

"It's definitely a little less hilly than Ottawa," she said. "I liked the course; it's fun. There's some nice hills, some steep downhills."

Locals who experienced that medal winning emotion over the course of the two day event included Callum Wiss (Walden Nordic – 1st in U16 5km; 2nd in 3.3 km) and Eden Abols (Laurentian Nordic – 2nd in U14 1.5km).

Coach Patti Kitler and the para nordic crew were also part of the festivities as Koko Blaise, Cilvy Dupras, Audreanne Soenens and Tanya Quesnel all raced at various times.

While the entries were more limited in the younger age brackets, a good number of area pre-teens jumped into competitive mode, with Jamie Kerckhoff (Walden - U10 - 1.0km/2.0km), Amelia Cote (Walden - U10 - 1.0km/2.0km), Benjamin Kurt (Walden - U8 - 750m), Miia Levesque (Walden - U8 - 750m/1.0km) and Charles Dickieson (Walden - U8 - 750m/1.0km).

Also donning the hometown racing colours were the Walden Cross-Country U10 trio of Kal Pilbacka, Ryker Waddell and Lucca Levesque, along with Master skier Sara McIlraith.

Representing Walden in the U12 division were Ryan Pineau, Tyce Cousineau, William Kurt, Arthur Dickieson with Russell Joiner, Finlay Cuza, Maija Nener, Josh Rioux and Théo Chartrand carrying the torch in the elder brackets (U16/U18).

Joining Eden Abols with the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club team were Julia Masters, Paul Masters, Keir Gauld, Georgia McShane and Julian Luoma.

Sudbury Wolves