Written by Martin Boyce, Carleton Sports Information
Photo by Carleton Athletics; Ravens Nordic head coach Nic Clifford (far right) with Team Canada in China
Carleton Ravens Nordic ski head coach Nicholas Clifford recently returned from China where he assisted Team Canada as a wax technician for a 2022 Olympic preparation event.
Clifford was away with the team from March 19-26 for the event, called China City Sprint 2018, in Yan’an, a city in the Shaanxi province in central China. The Chinese Ski Federation and Swix Sport China sponsored and promoted the sprint race.
As a city sprint, the race course went through the city itself, enabling any fans and those in the city to easily catch some of the action. It is the first time China has held a FIS crossing country skiing city sprint competition.
A group of seven Canadian athletes from different clubs and national programs came together to race at the event, which had 140 athletes from 16 different countries.
Clifford’s role as wax technician was to best prepare the athletes for their races based on the snow conditions and weather. In addition to prepping the racers skis for competition, he also provided race-day support in whatever other capacity was needed.
For Clifford, the 2016 OUA Coach of the Year award winner, this was a unique experience. It was his first ever trip to China and he says it was by far the furthest he has every travelled for a ski race. He spent seven days in the foreign country, including two travel days in Beijing.
The trip comes only weeks after Clifford led the Ravens women’s team to a Canadian Colleges and Universities Nordic Championships banner in Thunder Bay at the 2018 national championships and an OUA banner earlier this month.
At the China City Sprint, Italian Federico Pellegrino claimed the title of men’s 1.5km sprint free. Lucas Chanavat from France and Martti Jylhae from Finland finished with second and third place. In the women’s, Swiss Laurie Van Der Graaff beat Tiril Udnes Weng from Norway at the finish line to take gold. Other Norwegian Amalie Haakonsen Ous took bronze.
Two of Canada’s seven athletes qualified for the quarterfinals. The top Canadian on the men’s side was Julien Locke of Black Jack Ski Club, who finished 22nd. On the Women’s side Maya MacIsaac-Jones of Rocky Mountain Racers finished in 20th.