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Nipissing Nordic Skiers Step Up at NorAms

Nipissing's Lynsey Bialkowksi leaving it all out on the course in the women’s 10km skate race. Photo courtesy Gord Kerr.

Nipissing's Lynsey Bialkowksi leaving it all out on the course in the women’s 10km skate race. Photo courtesy Gord Kerr.

The past weekend’s NorAm cross-country ski races gathered together Ontario’s varsity ski teams at Highland Nordic in Duntroon, while racers from across the country sought to qualify for the remaining spots at the World Championships.

Nipissing Nordic skiers made progress at the races and came close to cracking the top ten on the OUA men’s and women’s sides.

The team qualified 3 racers through to the heats in Saturday’s classic sprint races.

The 1.6 KM course put a sturdy series of climbs in front of the athletes on their way out of the stadium.

In the quarterfinal heat of the OUA women’s race, the course proved too long for the pace initially set by Lynsey Bialkowski, who faded from the front pack at the top of the course to get bumped from the heats.

Pacing proved an issue for the men also, with Matt Chalmers running out of course in his quarterfinal as he charged to the line against Laurentian skier and former North Bay skier Jake Porter, narrowly missing third in the heat and ending his day early.

Sunday’s middle distance skate race brought better returns for the team.

A total effort by Bialkowski left her prone at the line, finishing 11th among the varsity women and 42nd overall. Chalmers skied with determination over the 15km course, with negative splits on his last lap and a 13th place finish among varsity skiers and 65th overall. He was pursued by teammate Kevin Durkee, who suffered a bruised rib in a fall early on in the race, suffering through to finish 25th place in the OUA category, 85th overall, followed by teammate Andrew Kerr as the 32nd OUA racer, and 95th among the men.

Selections for the World Championships saw Graham Nishikawa from Whitehorse post a convincing win on Sunday with a 30 second gap on second place, with Highland’s Nordic skier Brittany Webster out front by a 23 second margin in the women’s middle distance race, both inspired by the chance to punch their tickets to the World Championships and join Canada’s World Cup Team, now training in Sochi in preparation for the 2014 Olympics.

That mix of international level and varsity ski racing brought together the intensity of high performance and the team energy of the university squads.

The racers will now have a couple days of light training and recovery before a contingent from Nipissing Nordic heads to Quebec for the Eastern Canadian Championships, with races scheduled for this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.