The Nordic skiers came home from nationals this week, bringing to an end their season and last year as a varsity team.
The Canadian College and University National Championship (CCUNC) for Nordic Skiing was held last week in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The team faced unusually warm weather all winter which made practice and local races more difficult than previous years, but was greeted by Thunder Bay’s low temperatures and snow -- a welcome sight so late in the season.
UBC’s team, which had done well in more local races, found themselves in heavy snow and heavier competition. “It was awesome to compete against the fastest cross country skiers in Canada,” said second-year Hannah Xavier. “There was definitely a lot more pressure to do well, but we got out there and did the best we could.”
Lakehead and Laval Universities continued their dominance over nationals, leading nearly all of the races. UBC was one of the few western universities competing in Thunder Bay.
Kirsty Bock, a third-year student placed in top 20 for the women’s 5km Freestyle as well as top 10 along with Xavier in the Women’s Free Sprint Relay. Alistair Hardy-Poirier, a graduating Thunderbird, was within the top 20 in the Men’s 10km Free Style race, and together with teammate Daniel Moore, placed 11th in the Men’s Relay for 26th in the aggregate standings.
“I did surprisingly well [in the 10km] considering the amount of skiing I’ve had this year,” said Hardy-Poirier. “I knew it was going well on my second 5km lap when I was keeping up and passing with the people who were starting their first lap. I was stoked with my race and … worked hard to keep myself maxed out throughout the race.”
Nationals was Hardy-Poirier’s last big event with the team and he said he would miss the team but was “sure we’ll be seeing lots of each other around in one way or another.”
This year was Xavier’s first time competing on a Canadian scale. “I haven’t been to nationals before so this was a totally new experience,” she said. “There was a lot more competition at nationals than in any of the BC races.… That being said, we raced really well considering the amount of time we have spent on the snow this year.”
Xavier hopes to be able to be able to go to nationals next year as a competitive club. The team’s status, whether varsity or competitive, has little to do with the their dynamic, she said. “We love this sport and the competition and that’s what matters.”
However, she expressed concern over the team’s future as a competitive club. “There is a little uncertainty about whether or not we will be able to compete at nationals in the [upcoming] years,” said Xavier. “We would definitely like to go, but it all depends on the location and what we can afford as a competitive club.” The team was not able to attend nationals in Corner Brook, NL last year due to cost and location, but received enough support from UBC to fly to Thunder Bay this year.
“I’m happy for the support UBC has provided but sad they aren’t going to be providing the same level of support in the future,” said Hardy-Poirier, adding that “all alumni donation calls will be left unanswered by me.”
The team made sure that The Ubyssey included a thank-you for their host, Betty Carpick. “She took us into her home and the whole neighbourhood in Thunder Bay helped feed us and make sure we were well taken care of. [We] want to thank her for her generosity and incredible cooking,” said Xavier.