Telemark Sends Team to 2016 International Winter Children’s Games in Innsbruck
From January 11-15, four BC athletes were given an experience to remember when Clara Dickieson, Sally Haaheim, Oliver McDougall-Eisele and Grayson McKinnon along with trip leader, Ross McKinnon, all from the Telemark Nordic Club in Kelowna, took part in the 2016 International Winter Children’s Games.
The International Children’s Games is “an alliance of cities with the common goal of forming nation-linking friendship through sports competition”. In this they share a common goal with communities across BC. The summer games are held yearly and the winter games every two years. This year the cross country events were held in Seefeld, about 30 minutes west of the host city, Innsbruck, Austria.
The races were open to athletes born in the 2001 and 2002, and were highly competitive. Athletes from Russia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Spain, United States and Canada were in attendance. The four athletes from Telemark Nordic Club were the only Canadians in the cross country competitions.
The Games took place over four days including the opening and closing ceremonies. On the first day, which was official training, the Austrians rejoiced as the first substantial snow of the season fell on the town. Expansive snow making systems also assisted in the event, allowing locals and visitors to ski throughout the meadows and woods around the town. During training day the athletes skied the well-designed course along with its rollovers, tight corners and a downhill slalom. Later that evening they attended the opening ceremonies which included a parade of athletes, dancing, singing, fireworks and a massive lighted puppet.
On the first competition day (a 3.5km classic individual start race) the Telemark team woke up to warm temperatures and heavy snow, which made for tricky waxing. Due to the distance of the bus ride there was only 40 minutes available to test skis. In the girl’s race Sally ended up 12th and Clara was 19th. In the boys race, Grayson was 12th and Oliver was 16th.
The second day of competition was the 800m skate sprint race. It was a beautiful sunny day with great views of the Alps. The Telemark athletes raced well again with Oliver qualifying 18th, and Grayson 22nd. Both athletes made the quarterfinals but were knocked out in the heats. Clara qualified 22nd and was also knocked out in the quarterfinal. Sally skied very well, qualifying 12th, and placing 11th overall in the finals.
The last day of competition was a mixed team skate relay. Two boys and two girls were randomly assigned to teams consisting of athletes from all over the world. No city was allowed to have two athletes on the same team. This made interesting work for the Canadian athletes to find their new teammates, as many of them didn’t speak English. The event was a blast and included a 1.75km course with lots of ups and downs, rollers, and a downhill slalom. The finish was close, and all four Telemark athletes came close to a spot on the podium.
The athletes had a lot of fun meeting skiers from all over the world and trading pins, shirts, toques and hats with them. And from now on there will be four athletes from other parts of the world wearing Cross Country BC gear! The experiences the team had will last a lifetime, and are sure not to be forgotten.