NDC Thunder Bay also had a strong showing


THUNDER BAY – WHISTLER, BC- Sports – The final day of competition to decide who will be representing Canada at the World Junior and U23 Cross Country Ski Championships, taking place in Turkey this February, got underway at the Whistler Olympic Park on Sunday.

In the 15km individual start classic race, veteran NDC-Thunder Bay skier, Michael Somppi finished a strong 7th position in a field of 97 skiers. Teammate Chris Hamilton had a very impressive race, placing 9th overall and 2nd U23 skier.

Close on Hamilton’s heels, Andy Shields crossed the line in 13th position and 5th U23 skier of the day. With Hamilton and Shields’ great results over the weekend in the U23 category, they look to be in close contention to represent Canada at the World U23 Championships.

Only time will tell as the final team selection will not be available for 48 hours.

In the Women’s 10km classic race, Andrea Lee finished off her strong weekend with a 5th place (11th overall) in the U23 category, while Erin Tribe placed 6th in the U23 category (17th overall).

Full results from today’s race can be found at http://www.zone4.ca/live.asp?id=4296

NDC-Thunder Bay also had a strong showing in yesterday’s skate sprints as Andrea Lee placed a very strong 4th overall in a field that had most of the top senior skiers from across Canada. Alannah MacLean finished 9th in the Junior Category. The men skied very strong as NDC placed 3 in the top ten. Somppi, despite an unfortunate crash in the finals, crossed the line in 5th position. Shields was the 2nd U23 skier (7th overall) and Harry Seaton came in 10th. Final results from the sprint races can be found at http://www.zone4.ca/results.asp?id=4314

The next stop on the team’s agenda is the Western Canadian Championships taking place in Canmore on January 20th. This is also part of the Haywood NorAm race circuit.

Somppi, on his 5th place finishing in the 1.4km freestyle sprints stated, “I’m really happy I managed to turn it around from a rough race on Thursday to perform well in today’s sprints. The staff did a great job giving us fast skis today. The conditions were tricky with so much fresh snow falling, you had to ski smooth out there. I think I adjusted to the conditions reasonably well. With all of the new snow, only one skied in lane formed and going out of this lane meant skiing through slow powder. This made passing during the heats very difficult. It also made for lots of close calls and crashes. I got tangled up in every heat I was in out there today. I was fortunate to make it to the A-Final without crashing, but not so fortunate when my luck ran out and I crashed on the first long climb after getting tangled up with another skier in the A-Final. After crashing the deficit was too much to rejoin the field and I skied in solo, picking up one position after passing a victim of another crash. It would have been nice to challenge for a medal, but I can’t complain with a 5th place.”

Andy Shields commented on his sprint race, “Good day for me, 2nd U23. The dump of snow made for some sloppy conditions which was a big advantage for me. I had a tough Semi-final as I was the only one not on the national team in that heat so I was pretty out-classed and had to settle for the B-final. I had some juice left to win the B-final and finish 7th overall. Great day overall for the whole crew, two top fives with over half of us in the top 10 and everyone in the top 30.”

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