Rossland native and Black Jack skier Remi Drolet trains in Oberstdorf, Germany earlier this week in preparation of the 2021 FIS World Nordic Ski Championship. Photo: submitted

Rossland skier competes at World Nordic ski championship

Remi Drolet was selected to Team Canada and will race at the 2021 FIS World Nordic Ski Championships

Rossland nordic skier Remi Drolet will race for Team Canada at the 2021 FIS World Nordic Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany this week.

Drolet earned his spot on the Canadian team based on results achieved at the 2020-21 World Cup races. Five women and five men will bring the maple leaf to the start line in all races throughout the two-week Nordic festival.

“The team is small, there’s only five guys so they’ll race a lot, I suspect,” said Black Jack ski coach David Wood. “There’s six events for men and six for women.”

Remi came 56th in the Classic Sprint on Thursday and on Saturday he’ll compete in the 30-km skiathlon.

The 20-year-old Black Jack Ski Team racer graduated from the Junior ranks and competed in the U23 World Championships earlier this month in Finland where he had a 22nd place showing in the 15-k, and finished 28th in the 1.4-km sprint.

“The U23 was not as good as he was expecting, but there may be some logistical reasoning,” said Wood. “I think he’s in a good place right now and they’ve settled in at Oberstdorf and are getting ready to roll.”

Drolet anchored the Junior relay team to silver at the 2020 Worlds, and just missed the podium with a fourth place finish in the 30-k, the top finish for a BC male athlete. His sister Jasmine Drolet duplicated that feat at the same event this year finishing in 18th place in the 15-km Classic, the best-ever finish at the world juniors by a BC female athlete. She also came in 23rd in the 5-km event, while Black Jack’s Molly Miller finished top Canadian in the classic sprint.

Nordic Canada cancelled all domestic races due to COVID this year and so had to adapt their selection process and create an objective criteria for the World Cup and World Championship events, while consulting with the High Performance Committee to manage risks associated with the ongoing pandemic.

“Travelling and competing during these times has not been easy, however, each of our national team athletes have shown their resilience and adaptability through this adversity,” said high performance director of Nordiq Canada Kate Boyd in a release. “They have stepped up and delivered. We look forward to now shifting our focus to performing on the biggest stage of the year at the World Championships.”

Remi is one of five male athletes who has been living, training and competing in a controlled bubble while following robust protocols since traveling to Europe in early January.

A Harvard student, he has been training with Black Jack at home this year while doing courses online. With no competition leading up to the events in Europe, he is at a disadvantage as his fellow European and American skiers have been competing all year.

“Part of the problem was when he went there, that was his first starts of the year,” explained Wood. “He’s been up against people who have been racing since November, so that’s just our situation right now.

“I would like to see him, if he has one day where he cracks the top-25, that would be really good,” added Wood.

Rounding out the rest of the men’s team is Olympian, Russell Kennedy of Canmore, Graham Ritchie of Perry Sound, Ont., Antoine Cyr of Gatineau and Philippe Boucher of Levis, Que.

“This is a dynamic group of athletes focused on delivering results when it counts the most,” added Boyd. “Being a younger team, the World Championships are a key measuring stick in their continued progression. These athletes have all worked hard to achieve this honour of representing Canada, and I know they will make the country proud.”

The women’s team will be led by Katherine Stewart-Jones of Chelsea, Que., Maya MacIsaac-Jones of Athabasca, Cendrine Browne from Saint-Jérôme, Que., Olympian Dahria Beatty of Whitehorse, and Laura Leclair from Quebec City will make her World Championship debut at the elite level.

The Nordic world championship runs from Feb. 23 to Mar. 7.

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