(ISN) – On the final day of competition at Otway Nordic Centre, Team BC was once again standing tall on the podium with a silver medal finish in the women’s cross country skiing 4 x 3.75km relay and a bronze in the men’s 4 x 5km relay.
The women’s team of Katherine Weaver (North Vancouver), Molly Miller (Kimberley), Hannah Mehain (Vernon) and Eliza-Jane Kitchen (North Vancouver) combined for two legs of classic style and two legs of skate skiing. In the first transition, Team BC was sitting in sixth place when 13-year-old Miller started out on the course.
“I caught the first two athletes pretty quickly and stayed with them until about one kilometer in and then I passed the Ontario skier. I was happy to know we were in medal contention,” said Miller.
On the third leg Mehain continued to gain ground and was in second when she passed off to Kitchen for the final leg.
“I was so shocked to see Hannah come in second and by that amount so I was excited and ready to go,” said Kitchen. “I was a little scared too because I didn’t want third place skier to catch up. I could see the skier ahead and I was thinking just give it for the team. I thought of all of them and the work they had just put in. Out on the course the fans and coaches were amazing running up the hills and cheering us on.”
Ktichen held the second place position throughout her leg and came into the stadium to a roaring crowd and crossed the line into the arms of her teammates.
“It was the greatest feeling ever coming into the stadium,” said Kitchen. “I started to get a little choked up and it was amazing to come in there and have all our friends and family and people from the community out here cheering for us. It was an incredible feeling.”
The energy from the women’s race continued as the men took to the course. Julien Locke (Nelson), Colin Ferrie (Kimberley), David Palmer (Revelstoke) and Geoffrey Richards (Rossland) had a similar start to the women and were chasing the pack after the first two legs. When Palmer began the third leg he was in a dead head for third position. “Everyone was going really hard off the start and I managed to get in front for a bit but then I crashed and broke a pole.” In the 15km race earlier in the week, Palmer also broke a pole but, once again he was given a replacement pole by another team on the course.
On the final leg Richards started off in fourth position. “I felt good heading out and saw potential to move up. I was just working and fighting hard to catch the leaders.”
The hometown crowd was a big motivation to all the athletes. “It was awesome leaving the stadium after the exchange and all over the course there was a big crowd of people following the race,” Richards said. “Definitely good for the motivation and gets you pumped.”
Richards continued, “I am super proud of this team. We all train together regularly so to finally race together on the same team and not against each other was awesome.”
The cross country team wraps up a successful week with a gold, silver, and two bronze in the able body categories and four gold, four silver and one bronze in the para events.