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Caledonia Nordic Ski Club prepares for world junior qualifying event

UNBC tuition credits could help attract skiers to junior trials at Otway Nordic Centre, Jan. 18-21
Teck BC Championships Day One Mar 4/22 7
Jake Ulansky of the Telemark Nordic Ski Club attacks the slopes at Otway Nordic Centre while competing in March at the 2022 Teck B.C. Championships at Otway Nordic Centre.

They won’t be handing out participation ribbons later this month at the Nordiq Canada Selection Trials and Nordiq Cup cross-country ski races, but if they did those who received them would want to keep them in a safe place.

That’s because everybody who races in the four-day event, Jan. 18-21 at Otway Nordic Centre is eligible for a $2,000 UNBC tuition credit.

With as many as 300 racers converging on Prince George to try to qualify for the FIS world junior/under-23 world championships, that would be a fruitful recruitment drive if even a small percentage took up the offer to come back to attend university classes in Prince George.

The host Caledonia Nordic Ski Club has been vying for the right to bring the world junior selection trials to the city ever since Prince George hosted the 2015 Canada Winter Games and its Otway facility has never been better prepared to bring in such a high-level event.

Backed by a new $4 million snowmaking system that’s put down a solid base of snow on the race courses and stadium areas, barring a monsoon or record heatwave, there won’t be any hassles keeping the trails well maintained for three days of racing.

“We’ve made some huge investments in snowmaking and I think that’s really caught the eyes of Nordiq Canada and certainly Cross Country BC  for us being a venue of choice for hosting these things, “ said Caledonia director of competition Kevin Pettersen.

“It’s not just the infrastructure, it’s the people as well. I think we have a really solid reputation in terms of the officials and volunteers. So we were delighted when Nordiq Canada gave us the nod in May.”

Pettersen says with athletes coming to B.C. from all provinces and territories, the timing and location of the trials event is perfect, with the U-23 world junior championships set to begin the following week in Whistler, Jan. 27-Feb. 5.

UNBC offered similar tuition credits to athletes at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and 2022 BC Summer Games. That prompted Pettersen to suggest to UNBC president Geoff Payne that the credit be extended to the athletes, aged 16-22, coming to the city this month.

A reception is planned on the UNBC campus during the week of the trials races for the athletes so they can see firsthand how close the Cranbrook Hill campus is to Otway Nordic Centre.

“Hopefully that will draw even more people,” Pettersen said. “I don’t know if there’s many places you can race and get a $2,000 tuition credit just for participating.”

Racing starts on Wednesday, Jan. 18 with the classic technique sprint events. A 20-kilometre mass start classic event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19. Following a training day, the trials wrap up on Saturday, Jan. 21 with a 10 km interval start freestyle race.

There will be two racing classes – under-23 and under-18 – for the male and female divisions.

Teams from Poland, Liechtenstein and Kazakhstan are also coming to the trails as part of their training for the world junior championships. The Polish team will be led by coach Lukáš Bauer, a three-time Olympic medalist and they plan to spend 11 days in Prince George.

The Caledonia club has been selected to host the Para Biathlon World Championships and 2024 World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals, March 3-18, 2024.

Prince George successfully hosted the 2019 World Para Nordic Championships.



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