A 20-year drought came to an end for the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club.
With 70 members competing in the Teck Cross Country Skiing BC Championship on their home course at the Otway Nordic Ski Centre during the weekend, the Prince George-based club won the provincial club title for the first time since 1993.
CNSC first-year coach Andrew Casey said it was a nice achievement for the team.
"I'm pretty ecstatic," said Casey. "Everyone here works very hard. The kids work really hard on their training and we've got some great volunteer coaches. Our waxing staff this weekend was really, really great. It definitely helps when we race at home for the championship because there are definitely some kids here who wouldn't race elsewhere."
CNSC finished with 113 points, 25 points ahead of Laroch Hills of Salmon Arm who had won the trophy the past two seasons. Smithers Bulkley Valley club placed third with 55 points. Each team earns points when one of their skiers places in the top five of one of the 12 age-based race categories.
It's the fourth provincial title CNSC has claimed, having previously won in 1989, 1990 and 1993.
Erica Kreitz and Sage Bialuski both finished first in their respective 7.5 kilometre races Saturday to help pace the CNSC team to the championship. Kreitz won gold for second-year juvenile girls, while the 14-year-old Bialuski was first in the first-year juvenile girls category.
"There's quite a bit more competition this year than last year but I welcome that because without that the race wouldn't be happening," said the 15-year-old Kreitz.
Both girls will be age-eligible in 2015 when the Canada Winter Games are hosted in Prince George, but with the maximum age for competitors being 23 it'll take a lot of hard work and training for them to beat out older athletes. Only 10 skiers in all of British Columbia will qualify for Team B.C. - five men and five women.
Casey said Kreitz and Bialuski have both placed well in their six races this season, including three BC Cup events, including this weekend at Otway, and he believes they'll be able to place well at their first national competition, March 18-31, in Whistler.
"It think it'll be the first nationals for all of our athletes so it'll be a learning experience but with that as a coach at that level I want to make sure we do take it quite seriously," said Casey. "Sage and Erica in particular have been competing quite well against girls in B.C. who have either medaled or were in the top five last year at nationals. It really sets them up, with all things being equal, for a chance to do well."
CNSC skiers will have four more events to prepare before making the trip to Whistler, including the annual Spirit of the Rivers event at Otway on March 3, two Northern B.C. Cup races in Burns Lake and at Otway and a time trial event the week before nationals.
When it comes to competing on their home course in 2015 for Kreitz and Bialuski, Casey said it'll be a reach but if things fall into place you never know what will happen.
"They're going through that stage in development where they're going to get stronger really quickly and faster so who knows where that limit is if I can help coach them properly," said Casey.
There were 320 registered athletes competing at Otway on the weekend from 16 clubs across B.C.