Ontario Cup nordic ski races do not frequently come to the Sudbury area, but when the events make their way to town, the locals take full advantage.
But the weekend's combination of blowing snow, high winds and heavy snowfall made for some tough conditions for racers.
More than 20 Sudbury-based competitors representing both the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club and Walden Cross-Country Fitness Club (WCCFC) hit the trails in Naughton this past weekend, as the latter group hosted provincial-calibre races on the trails just west of Lively for the first time in a good, long while.
Walden head coach Patti Kittler explained the events held in the north, southwest and Ottawa areas help coaches and racers gauge their progress.
“We bring all our athletes to see if they've improved over the winter,” Kitler said.
Walden racer Kyle Reinhardt said conditions made the event a real challenge. The course was “soft,” he said, forcing racers to duck walk rather than taking stronger diagonal strides.
“It was a tough course,” Kyle said.
Isabelle MacLean of the host club recorded some of the more impressive results of the weekend, finishing 7th in both the Junior Girls 5.5-km classic race as well as the 10-km freestyle event.
On the boys side of the draw, the battle between local competitors in the middle of the pack remained intriguing.
Laurentian teammates Thomas Gore (15th) and Tim Tindall (18th) continue to duke it out with Nathan Johnston (24th) of Walden in the Junior Boys division. Meanwhile, Olivier Palkovits (Laurentian) and Kyle Reinhardt (WCCFC) waged an equally intense competition in the juvenile boys division.
Walden's para nordic contingent, one of the best in the province, also enjoyed the chance to strut their stuff on the home turf as Christine Henry, Christopher Barclay, Tanya Quesnel, Christian Yanchuk, Brittany Bakker and Joshua St Jean all took full advantage of the glut of new fallen snow over the weekend.
The next wave of Sudbury-based talent also showed well in peewee and midget groupings as Danny Tindall and Emmett Taillefer both cracked the top five in a series of races that drew athletes from across the province.
Randy Pascal is the founder of SudburySports.com and a contributing sports editor for Northern Life