A small but determined contingent from Nelson Nordic Ski Club returned from the BC Midgets this weekend in Salmon Arm, with a bronze medal, several ribbons and some proud and funny moments to remember.
Nine-year-old Maya Abraham (pictured at left, second from right) captured third in the 2006 girls’ 300 metre sprints and fifth in the 2 km classic race, while teammate Kaleum Smith nabbed fifth in both events for the 2006 boys, and also took home one of only five coveted technique awards in the classic event.
In the 2003 age category, Noah Malenfant won the B final of the boys’ sprints for a seventh place finish overall,with Felix Barron placing 12th overall after an unfortunate spill in the home stretch. First-year racer Elias Lussier (2006 boys) pulled off an 11th place in the sprints and 14th in the classic. Oscar Willems (2005) and Tess Nuttall (2003) also showed good technique and finished strong.
The event known as “Midgets” is the provincial championships for skiers aged 9 to 12. It also draws in high-calibre skiers from places like Canmore, Alta. and the Methow Valley, in Washington state, making for stiff competition, with 20 to 30 skiers in each age category, many of whom are already training three or more times a week.
The Midgets are a great learning experience for all who attend — a chance to work on starts in mass settings, to develop strategy, and to practice dealing with nerves. Coach Doris Hausleitner said she was proud of the kids for skiing smart, clean races and representing Nelson well. All the athletes worked very hard, encouraged each other, and showed patience waiting through the many heats and divisions.
With temperatures right around and above zero, waxing conditions were tricky, making this year’s event even more of a learning experience than usual. But the young athletes benefitted from the positive attitudes and encouragement of the coaches — Hausleitner and Karen Redfern — and the early-morning dedication of the wax techs, Erik Leslie and Kurstun Smith (and the good humour of siblings).
The coaches’ race and the team relays were definite highlights for the kids — Hausleitner’s hastily improvised bright orange Lone Ranger mask (seen at left) added levity and laughter to the occasion, as did the surprised announcer’s comment, “We don’t know who he is [sic], but that little guy can ski!”
Nelson Nordic’s youth racers now have a bit of a break from competition until Feb. 27 and 28 when Rossland’s Blackjack Nordic Ski Club hosts their annual Loppet and the final race of the Teck Kootenay Cup circuit. TheNelson club encourages as many Nelson skiers as possible to participate, and assist in its bid for the Kootenay Cup.
Below: Oscar Willems skiing anchor in the boys’ team relay.