Many of the top cross-country athletes from across the country are set to converge at the Callaghan Valley for the 2013 Haywood Cross Country Ski Nationals from March 23 to 31 — part of an event that will see national championships decided in the four Nordic disciplines.
The nationals, a big part of the Sea to Sky Nordic Festival, feature races in both skate and classic techniques, from sprints to mid-distance to the final 50-kilometre men’s race and 30 km women’s race.
Joining new and returning racers will be Canadian National Team members Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Len Valjas, Daria Gaiazova, Perianne Jones, and Ivan Babikov. The competition marks the team’s return from the recent World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
For the first time in Canadian history, the Biathlon Championships, the Haywood Cross Country Ski Championships and the Aviva Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships will all be happening in succession at Whistler Olympic Park.
“We’re excited to be hosting an event of this calibre so soon after the Olympics,” said Sherryl Yeager, event chair. “We’re seeing a growth phase in the sport so it’s more exciting than ever to have nationals here in Whistler.”
With hundreds of athletes on site for biathlon, cross-country, and ski-jumping/Nordic combined, the event will “return us to the excitement of 2010 Olympics,” Yeager said.
“We’ll have more athletes, more races and more adrenalin pumping in this two-week period than we did in 2010,” Yeager said. “This event is going to give you non-stop all-day high-level racing from Canada’s best.”
Entry to watch all races is free and spectators are encouraged to come out and cheer. This will be the last major race for the Canadian team in Canada before the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The festival gets underway on Friday (March 15) with the North American and Canadian Biathlon Championships. Cross-country events kick off on March 23 and the ski jumping and Nordic combined racers hit the snow and sky from March 28 to 31.
For more information on the festival, see our special segment in this newspaper or visit www.festival.callaghanwintersportsclub.ca.