Courtenay cross-country skier Carly Ram finished her season atop the national podium — twice.
Whistler Olympic Park recently hosted the 2022 Canadian Cross-Country Ski Championships and US Super Tour Finals.
The event was a nine-day Nordic festival, with more than 700 racers from across North America, including several 2022 Olympians and Paralympians from both Canada and the U.S., competing in five individual and one team event over the course of the championships.
Twelve Strathcona Nordics athletes raced at nationals and came home with several stellar individual and team performances, and placed an amazing 15th overall in national club standings, out of 61 clubs.
Strathcona Nordics members boasted outstanding and breakout performances from throughout the lineup, none more impressive than what came from Carly Ram of Courtenay, who won two gold medals, in the 3.3-km skate and 10-km skate races. She also performed consistently over the week, 14th in five-kilometre classic and ninth in one-kilometre classic sprint to finish the championships second in overall aggregate standings in her U16 age group, of more than 80 athletes.
Ram teamed up with Anna Chatterton of Campbell River to finish fourth and on the podium in the Challenge Girls (combined U16 and U18) team sprint, a very exciting event with the top 15 teams from qualifiers skiing two laps each, alternately, of a very fast and at times chaotic 750-metre sprint course.
Also on the podium, in the gold medal position, was Amelia Wells of Victoria and her teammate from the University of Calgary, in the Canadian College and University Nordic Championships (CCUNC), team sprint event. Wells is a club member currently studying fulltime in Calgary while also skiing with the Alberta World Cup Academy training centre. In addition, Wells achieved CCUNC podium positions in three individual events, placing second in the five-kilometre skate, fourth in the 22.5 km skate and fifth in the 10 km classic, rounding out her championships with an eighth in the 1.4 km classic sprint and achieving an overall third place in the CCUNC womens aggregate standings.
Further notable results came from Anna Chatterton of Campbell River in the U18 girls category with three top 25 placings: 13th in the five-km skate, 17th in the 15-km skate and 24th in the one-kilometre classic sprint. Her brother, Gavin Chatterton, also had an excellent week finishing with three top-30 placings in a very competitive U16 boys category, including 17th in the five-km skate, 22nd in the 10-km skate and 29th in the one-kilometre classic sprint.
Sisters Madelaine and Gillian Galik from Royston, a dynamic pair, earned top results including 11th (and second-fastest qualifier) in the U16 girls one-kilometre classic sprint for Madelaine and 10th in the Challenge Girls team sprint with sister Gillian.
Top results for Gillian, in addition to the team sprint, also included an exceptional race in the five-km classic where she finished 11th overall in the U16 girls category as a U14 athlete. Gillian rounded our her championships with a very impressive 26th place in the 3.3-km skate and 28th place in the one-kilometre classic sprint, again in fields of athletes two years older than her.
In the very competitive U18 boys and U20 mens events, Jakob Kainz, an international student from Austria attending Vanier and currently residing in Cumberland, Hugo Henckel of Courtenay and Gavin Johnston from Campbell River all had impressive top results with Jakob posting an 11th place in the 10-km classic, 19th in the one-kilometre classic sprint and 24th in the 10-km skate events. Jakob also teamed up with Hugo to produce an exciting 11th place finish in the very competitive Challenge Boys team sprint final. Hugo rounded out his week with a hard fought 10th place in the one-kilometre classic sprint.
Campbell Riverite Gavin Johnston, just back from the Canadian Biathlon Championships, held in Prince George the week previous to the Cross-Country Nationals, where he came away with a national title in the individual 7.5-km sprint event, had a very solid week in the cross country world, finishing a very credible 25th in both the 10-km and 22.5-km skate races.
Rounding out the results was a 43rd placing for Rory Bratrud of Comox in the U18 boys one-kilometre classic sprint and a solid week of racing experience for two younger U14 athletes, Talia MacPhail-McGrady of Comox and Everett Wells of Victoria, who seized the opportunity to put themselves on the line against the best U16 athletes in the country.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said coach Andrea Stapff. “This is the best overall performance from a group of athletes from our club to date at these championships. A double national champion, a national CCUNC champion and so many top performances across the group speaks to their commitment and hard work. I’m proud of each and everyone. It was a long and at times challenging week with crazy weather, ranging from sun to snow to torrential rain, and these athletes persevered and rose to the occasion.
The coach expressed gratitude to assistant coach Marika Galik and wax technicians Kurt Galik and Jim Bratrud: “It takes a community, and these folks along with an incredible group of parents are what make it all happen.”