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Kimberley ski racers take on the world

Two qualify for U23 world championships in Whistler
Photo Credit Julie St. Jean Kimberley team at Nordiq Canada world selection trials in Prince George, B.C. Left to right : wax tech/coach Frank Ackermann, Marielle Ackermann, Sadie Demars, Raleigh Tarte, head coach Pauline Forren

Kimberley’s Marielle Ackermann and Raleigh Tarte have been selected to represent Canada at the FIS World Junior/U23 Ski Championships in Whistler, B.C. January 27 to Feb. 5th.

“It’s a pretty surreal experience to represent Canada in Canada” said Ackermann of the Kimberley Nordic Club, who races on scholarship at the University of Vermont.

“Being named to the Canadian world junior championship team was the biggest goal of my season and a dream I have been chasing since I started on the race team a few years ago,” said Tarte, a Kimberley Nordic junior racer.

Last weekend Ackermann, Tarte and teammate Sadie Demars raced with more than 160 of the top cross country skiers from across Canada at the Caledonia Nordic Ski Cub in Prince George B.C. for the 2023 Nordiq Canada Selection Trials in hopes of representing Canada.

“Conditions were pretty tough, with rain, and plus celsius temperatures on the race classic days amd it dumped snow before the race skate day,” said Kimberley coach Pauline Forren. “Despite this our athletes fought hard and they all had great races.”

The 10-day international event brings together the best 16 to 23-year-old cross-country skiers from 50 countries to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic venue.

“It’s pretty amazing how a small club like Kimberley can have someone representing consistently in international events,’ said coach Forren.

At the trials Ackermann, who raced at last year’s Norway world juniors, had a great showing in the her first race as a U23 with a third place finish in the classic sprint, . She passed on the 20km classic mass skate race to save herself for the last day and the 10 km interval skate race where she was 4th. These placings earned her a spot on the u23 Canadian squad.

“I haven’t done a ton of racing this year, so things are still a bit shaky. Nonetheless I tried my best which got me to the championships. I just have to keep looking forward and improving.”

Tarte had consistent U20 results in all three races.. A fifth place in the classic sprints. A third finish in 20 km classic and 7th in 10 km skate.

“ I was expecting to have my best result in the Classic sprint. I put up a good performance but not quite what I wanted out of the heats. The second day was a 20 km which I thought would be my weakest race but I skied great and that performance ultimately got me a spot on the team,” said Tarte, a Selkirk Secondary student.

17-year-old Demars, currently working her way back into top fitness, qualified for the quarter finals in the U20 sprints, suffered a crash in the 20 km classic mass start but was able to regroup enough to get to the 10 km skate start line and finished 26th.

Six athletes from each of the four groups (male/female, U20/U23),were chosen for the Canadian team. Tarte is the youngest racer of this group.

“I am so grateful for all the support I have been given this year and I cannot wait for the opportunity to race for my country on the world stage,” said the 16 year old.

The last time Kimberley had two racers on the Canadian world junior/U23 team was 2015 with Molly Miller and Colin Ferrie.

Ackermann and Tarte are now in Whistler with Team Canada preparing for the races.

“Skiing in Whistler today and seeing all the other national athletes was really exciting” said Ackermann “The coolest thing is the opportunity for family and friends to watch me compete in person at an international race.”

“Having world juniors in Canada is something that does not happen often and I am honoured to be here,” said Tarte

Meanwhile Demars is looking ahead to the Western Canadian Championships, hosted for the first time by the Kimberley Nordic Club, Feb. 3 to 5.

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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