My favorite event is sprint racing. More thrills and spills than any other XC event. More can go wrong and opportunities can be created at any minute. As a racer its important to never give up, even if you are in last place because there can be crashes, broken poles and protests, and it all happened today.
Sprints begin with an interval start time trial. The course for this age was posted at 800 metres, but GPS were showing 1.1 km. The course was fairly flat with the exception of an steep uphill hairpin turn, the point of all the excitement. After the qualifying time trial the top 30 competitors move on to heats. At Midget Champs all the kids qualify but here at Nationals they have to limit it to 30 competitors so as to get all the categories through.
Katie Weaver continued her amazing performances. She is not yet old enough to compete at Nationals, she's not 1 year but 2 years away from being old enough. Despite that she qualified 15th out of 66 competitors!! Jenn Wildi had a slip on the nasty hill and she didn't qualify. A couple of seconds can represent several place positions in this competitive field.
In the Juvenile category, Quinn was still recovering from his sickness didn't qualify but had his best race yet. Zayne Heyes qualified13th and Sam Morris qualified 23 for Juveniles. In the Junior category, Lucas was 6th, Fred 9th, Nic just missed out of top 30 by less than 1 second, but was able stick it to his twin brother in their hotly contested rivalry. Adam and Kalum were mid-field.
I decided to camp out at the hairpin with a few extra poles as I thought this would be the most likely spot for contact. i wasn't terribly excited about this as there was a really great spot where everybody was standing and you could run and see various sections of the course.
As it turned out this was where all the action was going to take place. The fastest two skiers in each heat advance. Katie was a respectable 3rd very much in the chase. Zayne and Sam were in the same heat, which is never good, unless they are #1 and #2. This heat came through very tight with Sam in 3rd and Zayne in 6th but very much in the race, anything could happen and it did when the guy in front of Zayne slipped and Zayne got tangled and that was the end of Zayne's race. Sam finished 3rd in the heat and didn't advance.
Lucas' heat came through and he finished second and advanced. Fred was up next and this is where Fred made his second heads up move of championship. The younger kids were hugging the inside of the corner and having to ski the steepest part of the hill. I had relayed this info to Jake who was at the start and he told Fred and Lucas. Fred entered the corner wide in third place. The first place guy was tight on the inside and the second place guy was wide in front of Fred. Fred spotted the "hole shot" an went for it! With a few quick steps he was in the middle and away like a robber stealing 1st place. It was a thing of beauty!
Lucas's semi-final was a tough one and he finished 4th. Good enough to make the "B" final. In Fred's heat he was charging up the hill in second place when there was the all too familiar crack of carbon fibre. Fred looked like a wounded duck and was screaming "Pole! Pole! Pole!" I had a moment of dyslexia as I tried to figure out left or right pole. I ran across the track and handed him the pole and then almost got ran over by racer #3. When the dust settled the Race Jury Official came over to me and said, "May I have a word with you" It wasn't the cleanest hand off...but it worked, Fred finished second and advanced.
Prior to the awards there was a protest on the final heat and at this moment the race jury is deliberating.
Ezekiel Williams entered the corner in 1st place with Stefan Sander-Green of Kimberly came charging hard on his right and Julian Locke-Hinke, 2010 Canadian Sprint Champ, hard on Stef's heals. Fred was in 5th or 6th. Ezekiel went down, Stef was like a heat seeking missile shooting into the lead, Julian right behind and Fred found his way around the pile up and was in Fourth. That's how it wound up. Stefan is a great kid that puts a huge effort into every race, a great competitor.
This is the same jury that gave a warning to the team sprint Nakkertok team that made a tag outside the exchange zone. So who knows.
Note: Subsequently Stefan Sander-Green was charged with obstruction and moved down to 5th place. The #2,3 & 4 were advanced one place so Fred Weaver ended up with a Bronze medal. Cross Country BC will appeal the decision.