After a few years of, how could we put this, drought, Cross Country Canada’s women’s program is showing signs of progress.
The newcomers into the Senior National Team bring a good boost towards some results. Dahria Beatty has scored WC points so that she is pre-selected for the U23 World Championships in Utah at the end of January. Maya MacIsaac-Jones is also pre-selected for the sprint.
There will be fierce competition between the candidates for the remaining spots. Emily Nishikawa, Cendrine Browne, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and Katherine Stewart-Jones, to name the ones on the Senior Team, will battle it out early January at the same venue for the other 2 spots available in sprint and 3 spots in distance.
Katherine Stewart-Jones showed her colors this past Sunday when she won the Pursuit at the NorAm Cup in Rossland, B.-C. She could have gone to Europe to gain WC experience in the early season, but chose to stay on the North American circuit and set her sights on the World Championships.
Here is how her Sunday went!
SP: How did it feel to finish ahead of two solid American veterans in Chelsea Holmes and Erika Flowers?
KSJ: It felt great. I was not at all expecting to get the fastest time of the day. I just skied as hard as I could to the line. I was mainly fighting for 3rd place on the mini-tour so winning the day was a nice surprise.
SP: It was cold in Rossland. How were the course, snow conditions and your skis?
KSJ: The courses were really hilly. There were a lot of steep climbs and downhills. The terrain definitely played to my strengths. I was lucky to have really good grip which helped me relax on the hills!
SP: Tell us about your race and strategy.
KSJ: My race strategy was to ski the first lap as relaxed as possible. I thought of it as an individual start race and tried not to focus on people around me. I ended up skiing with my teammate Annika (Richardson) for the first lap which was a lot of fun! I felt really good on the second lap so I picked up the pace and pushed really hard to the finish. Olivia (Bouffard-Nesbitt) had a great finishing sprint and out-sprinted me at the end for 3rd spot overall.
SP: You’ve skipped World Cup action in Europe in order to concentrate fully on the U23 World Championships in January. How much of an extra boost does this represent towards your main goal of the season?
KSJ: This result is a great confidence booster going into the rest of the season. I am really happy with how hard I could push this weekend. It is great to see that everything is working out so far. I am really looking forward to the rest of the ski season!
So be it! There will be some serious racing at the WJr/U23 Trials in Soldier Hollow starting January 7th!