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Teck BC Track Attack Championship competitors heat up Shuswap’s Larch Hills

Event hosted by Larch Hills Junior Race Team
Ian Calkins free skates down the hill into the final corner to finish 4th in the final heat of the 2010 Male 300-m sprint event of the 2023 Teck BC Track Attack Championships, held Jan. 28-29 at Larch Hills. (Brad Calkins photo)

By Brad Calkins

Special to the Observer

The Larch Hills Junior Race Team hosted the 2023 Teck BC Track Attack Championships this past weekend.

The two-day event invited young athletes, born 2010 to 2013, from all over the province to compete in three events plus have a lot of fun.

Saturday, Jan. 28, began with an interval start classic technique event, with all athletes going over the same 2 kilometre course at 15 second intervals, with the fastest posted times winning the event.

Conditions were a few degrees below zero and sunny. Two of the 24 competing Larch Hills Nordic skiers earned top five finishes: Gideon Breugem was 2nd in the 2010 Male category, and Zion Bucher was 3rd in the 2012 Male category.

After a lunch provided as part of the event, everyone got ready for the afternoon’s team relay event.

Each team consisted of four athletes, two skiing classic technique over the 1.5-km course, and the other two finishing with free (skate) technique.

The course was a short loop up Metford Hill to Marmot Lane, back down Ermine Hill, around the Ermine Wiggle, down the Dark Trail and up the Beast into the stadium, giving lots of opportunity to cheer on the skiers as they transitioned or finished.

Teams were encouraged to wear costumes, and many of the teams had full outfits and matching team names such as the Hollyburn Undie Gang, The Exploding Kittens and the The Business Boys.

Since all skiers of all ages compete together, the 2010 Boys and Girls teams are the teams to watch for the fastest finishes. The relay was a fun event to watch right up until the finish.

Larch Hills obtained their best result in the Official male category. The Red Hot Hawaiians, made up of Ian Calkins and Keiran Parker skiing classic technique and Aidyn Zuidhof and Gideon Breugem skiing free technique, had a photo finish with the Where’s the Arena team from Hollyburn, and ended up finishing fourth by 0.6 seconds.

The Telemarketers from Telemark led the male category with the fastest overall time, and the Hippy-Chix from Black Jack led the females.

Read more: More than 400 athletes compete in weekend of Teck BC Cup events at Shuswap’s Larch Hills

Read more: Larch Hills Nordic Club wins Teck BC Cup trophy

Saturday’s events culminated in a banquet at the Salmon Arm Recreation center, with an afternoon swim, dinner and awards for the first day’s events.

Day two looked to be too cold to race, with temperatures hovering just below the -15 C cutoff for the youngest skiers. However, the call was made to proceed given the forecast for the day. The sun was out, conditions were icy in the stadium, and with a short break to do awards and to give time for volunteers to get a quick warm-up in the chalet midday, the athletes were able to ski without getting too cold.

At 9 a.m., the skiers skied a skate technique interval sprint around a 300-m course. Rather than an elimination type event, the Tech BC Track Attack Championship uses a ‘Kings Court’ style event where the various heats are shuffled based on the athlete’s rank in each round. This means that no one is eliminated, and all athletes get to ski three times. The 300-m sprint course was a simple loop around the stadium, starting with a short uphill, and tight right hand corner at the top, a downhill section with one large hump and then a tight corner leading into the final stretch.

Watching six athletes race head to head around the course encouraged spectators to run back and forth from start to finish to cheer on the kids on what eventually turned into a sunny, but brisk afternoon.

Three Larch Hills skiers earned top 5 finishes in the freestyle sprints – Ian Calkins in the 2010 Male category (4th), and Zion Bucher (2nd) and Kai Thingsted (4th) in the 2012 Male category.

The Teck BC Track Attack Championships rewards participation, giving points for top five finishers and participation in each race towards an aggregate team trophy. This year was an unexpected tie for first place, shared between Hollyburn and Telemark, both with 191 points.

Larch Hills placed third with 97, narrowly edging out Black Jack with their 96 points.

In addition to the event awards, technique awards were also given to 5 skiers each in classic and skate technique. Grayson Styles from Larch Hills received one of the skate technique awards.

Next up on the race calendar, Feb 18-19 is the BC Cup #2 in Revelstoke, hosted by the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club while most of the 2009 and 2010 ski team athletes from Larch Hills head to Ottawa for a ski exchange with the Nakkertok Cross Country Ski Club next week.
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Tove Brown skis to 6th place in the 2013 Female category classic 2-km interval start of the 2023 Teck BC Track Attack Championships. (Brad Calkins photo)