While Canada's top cross-country skiers are chasing points through Europe at the Tour de Ski, the next generation is hard at work to one day fill their boots.
The best young skiers, some 300 athletes from Canada and the U.S., will be at Whistler Olympic Park from Jan. 12 to 15 for a stop of the Haywood NorAm Cup series.
NorAm races are important for several reasons, including earning FIS points and the opportunity to qualify for a spot on the World Cup. As well, the Whistler event will be critical for Under 23 athletes vying for one of five spots to represent Canada at the World Junior Ski Championships in Turkey in February, 2012.
Locally, the park has been busy with a wide variety of events but this is the first FIS-sanctioned event to take place at the Olympic venue since the Olympics.
"We are anticipating three great days of racing and encourage the public to get involved," said chief of competition Dirk Rohde. "Come volunteer, or just come watch the racing and cheer them on. These athletes are going to be going for it to earn their spot on the national team."
The event is being hosted by the Callaghan Valley Cross Country Ski Club, with the support of clubs in Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.
The events taking place include a men's and women's skiathlon — 15km of classic and 15km of skate for the men, 7.5km of classic and 7.5km of skate for the women — on Jan. 12, the freestyle sprints on Jan. 14 and the men's 15km classic and women's 10km classic on Jan. 15.
There will be some local involvement, with members of the Callaghan Valley Training Centre — one of four national training centres for cross-country skiing — taking part. As well, some members of the Whistler Nordics currently training and racing with the B.C. team will be there for the experience.
For more, visit www.callaghanxcski.ca.
Nordics Twoonie races kick off
The Whistler Nordics are launching their 10-event Twoonie Race series tonight, Thursday, Jan. 5 with an event taking part at Lost Lake. Sign-on is at 5:30 p.m. at the ticket booth, with the race starting at 6:15 p.m.
To take part you need to be a member of the Whistler Nordics. Memberships will be available at sign-in, and are $40 for adults, $25 for children and $90 for families of three. Participants should always bring a headlamp as race courses often veer off the lighted area.
The Twoonie Races run every Thursday through to Mar. 8 with one exception —the third race, Jan. 18, will take place at Whistler Olympic Park on a Wednesday.
Nordic events calendar filling up
In addition to the weekly Twoonie races and NorAms, there is a full calendar of events for Nordic racers.
Jan. 29 is the second race in the B.C. Cup series, held at the Whistler Olympic Park and hosted by the Whistler Nordics. Online registration will be available at www.zone4.ca.
Feb. 12 is the Lost Lake Classic, a new event taking place on the Lost Lake trails.
Feb. 25 is Sigge's P'ayakentsut, a marathon race with 50km categories.
Apr. 7 is the annual Woppet at Whistler Olympic Park, a fun day of events and races for the whole family.