Black Jack and NST member Julien Locke has been selected to race in the third stage of the FIS World Cup races in Europe. Submitted photo

Black Jack skier, Julien Locke, returns to World Cup

Julien Locke to join Team Canada for the FIS World Cup races in Europe.

Black Jack cross country skier and National Ski Team member Julien Locke is heading back to Europe to compete on the World Cup circuit.

The Nelson native raced in the first two legs of the World Cup this season, and has been selected to cap off a great year competing in World Cup races in Finland, Norway, Sweden, and China.

Locke earned his best result at the World Cup in Dresden, Ger. last month, coming in 15th in the sprint and a 13th place finish in the team sprint event with Bob Thompson from Thunder Bay. The pair just missed out on the final, after Locke’s pole was clipped and broke in the last 100-metres, leaving them 0.17 seconds from qualifying.

Locke also won the sprint event at the World Cup Trials in Canmore and the Olympic Trials at St. Ferreol les Neiges in Quebec in early January. However, he was not selected to the Olympic Team, based on Cross Country Canada’s (CCC) 2018 Olympic Games selection criteria, in which the CCC considers both qualifying and final results in its “sprint selection ranking process.”

Second-place finisher Russell Kennedy earned the berth and placed 55th in the sprint at the Olympic Winter Games on Tuesday, while Team Canada’s best sprinter was Len Valjas, who finished in seventh.

Nevertheless, Locke’s selection for another run on the World Cup is some consolation and he looks forward to the upcoming events.

“I’ve been selected to return to the World Cup for the final period of racing,” said Locke in an email to the Times. “I will compete in Lahti, Finland; Drammen, Norway; and Falun, Sweden. After the last World Cup in Falun (Mar. 16), I’ve been invited to compete at a FIS city sprint series in China.

“It will be an exciting month of racing!”

Locke has two top-20 finishes under his belt in his young career on the World Cup, that includes a 20th placing in a World Cup race in Quebec last year. His results in Dresden bode well for the 24-year-old athlete, who is in his second year with the National Ski Team.

“(Early in the season) I was in good form and skiing well, but finishing just out of the heats. I knew that I was fast enough, however, I needed to dial in my pacing and start more aggressively. I went home, trained well and feel that I’m at a good level now to keep the momentum up through the next part of the season,” Locke said after his World Cup sprint in Dresden.