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Eight times a charm: Larch Hills skiers win team trophy at Teck BC event

Shuswap contingent wins Midget Championships honour eighth year in a row
Ella Engels (55), Katy Calkins (55) and Saphirra Bucher (54) compete in the relay exchange during the Teck BC Midget Championships at Stake Lake near Kamloops over the Feb. 22-23 weekend. (Brad Calkins photo)

By Brad Calkins


The Larch Hills Junior Race Team attended the 2020 Teck BC Midget Championships, hosted this past weekend by the Overlander Ski Club at Stake Lake near Kamloops.

The two-day event invited young athletes, born 2007 to 2010, from all over B.C. to compete in three events plus have a lot of fun.

Saturday, Feb. 22, began with an interval start classic technique event, with all athletes going over the same two kilometre course at 15 second intervals, with the fastest posted times winning the event. Conditions were a few degrees below freezing and overcast. Of the 37 participating Larch Hills Nordic skiers, eight earned top five finishes. Top three results include: Dawson Bond (3rd, 2007 Boys), Ian Orchard (2nd, 2009 Boys), Reese Major & Keira Cadden (2nd and 3rd, 2009 Girls) and Gideon Breugem (3rd 2010 Boys).

After a lunch provided as part of the event, everyone got ready for the afternoon’s team relay event. Each team consisted of four athletes, two skiing classic technique over the 1.5-km course, and the other two finishing with free (skate) technique. The course was a short loop out of and back into the stadium, giving lots of opportunity to cheer on the skiers as they transitioned or finished. Teams were encouraged to wear costumes, and many of the teams had full outfits and matching team names such as the ‘Goofs in Toques,’ ‘Klister Sisters,’ ‘Peetie and the Sofa Surfers,’ and the ‘Larchie Glitter Queens’. The relay event promised to be a nail biter right up until the finish. The Larch Hills team CoCoDaMax, made up of Cole Bukmeier, Dawson Bond, Colby Cadden and Max Calkins, had a strong shot at gold, but knew they would need more on Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club racers to hold off their talented last skier, Lucas Gitt. Cole, Dawson and Colby had a great start and gave Max a good lead over Hollyburn’s first three skiers. All eyes were on the crest of the last hill into the stadium to see who the lead skier into the finish would be. Max crested the hill first as he headed down into the stadium with two corners to go. But Lucas then came over the hill right his tail. On the final corner, Lucas caught up and took the inside corner, finishing just 1.2 seconds ahead.

In addition to the silver in the relay, Larch Hills also placed fifth with team Yer Mom, made up of Daniel Neil, Asher Zuidhof, Kian Smith and Jonas Roberts. Saturday’s events culminated in a banquet at the Grand Hall at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, with food and awards.

Day two looked like it would feel much colder, with snow and wind kicking off the morning, though temperatures were just a degree or two colder. At 9 a.m., the skiers skied a skate technique interval sprint around a 300-metre course. Rather than an elimination type event, the Midget Championship uses a ‘Kings Court’ style event where the various heats are shuffled based on the athletes rank in each round. This means that no one is eliminated, and all athletes get to ski three times. The course was a simple loop around the stadium, starting with a short uphill, and tight right hand corner at the top, a downhill straight section with several large humps and then two tight corners leading into the final stretch. Watching six athletes race head to head around the course encouraged spectators to run back and forth, from start to finish, to cheer on the kids. Four Larch Hills skiers earned top-5 finishes in the freestyle sprints, including Gideon Breugem (3rd), Aiden Zuidhof (4th), Reese Major (1st), Keira Cadden (4th), Ian Orchard (5th), Kian Smith (4th), Jeremia Bucher (1st), Cole Bukmeier (4th). Results are available on

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The Midget Championships rewards participation, giving points for top five finishers and participation in each race towards an aggregate team trophy. Larch Hills won again this year, for the eigth time in a row! Larch Hills tallied 168 points over next place Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club (135 pts) and Sovereign Lake Nordic (99).

Meanwhile, in Fort St. John, several Larch Hills athletes raced in the BC Winter Games. Notable results included: Kaden Baum (gold x 2 in Para Nordic Sit-ski), Jonathan Breugem (4th & 5th 2006 Boys), Hilary Vukadinovic (4th & 9th 2005 Girls), Taylor Parker (11th & 12th 2005 Girls) and Frankie Ayotte (3rd x2 2005 Boys). In Unofficial Relays teams, Taylor Parker’s team placed first, and Kaden Baum’s placed 5th, while Jonathan Breugem and Frankie Ayotte placed 6th on Zone 2 Team B, and Hilary Vukadinovic’s Zone 2 Team D placed 7th.

Next up on the race calendar March 6-8th is the BC Championships in West Kelowna, hosted by Telemark Nordic.

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Larch Hills skier Melissa Neil races over a crest in the spring heats during the Teck BC Midget Championships at Stake Lake near Kamloops over the Feb. 22-23 weekend. (Brad Calkins photo)
Larch Hills relay skiers pause to pose for a group shot during the Teck BC Midget Championships at Stake Lake near Kamloops over the Feb. 22-23 weekend. (Brad Calkins photo)
Ellie Giesbrecht leads fellow Larch Hills skier Sara Worton in sprints during the Teck BC Midget Championships at Stake Lake near Kamloops over the Feb. 22-23 weekend. (Brad Calkins photo)