Whistler Nordic skiers quick in Sovereign Lake Nor-Am 

Tyler Mosher on podium in three events

With a lack of snow at Whistler Olympic Park, organizers moved three Nor-Am cup cross country races to Sovereign Lake in Vernon, B.C. this past weekend.

Members of the Callaghan Valley Training Centre — one of three national development centres for Cross Country Canada — took part in races over two weekends, as did Paralympic hopeful Tyler Mosher.

Going back to Dec. 7, Mosher finished second in the men’s standing Individual Start Free Technique race using his classic skis. It was his first race of the season, with little training due to the late start in Whistler and the demands of his landscaping business.

He was also sixth in an extremely close 10 km classic race, just 1.15 seconds back of the leader, then moved up to second in another 10 km classic race behind Mark Arendz of the national para-nordic team, and won a shorter sprint race.

“I did make the criteria to compete in the World Championships, but I also hope to be competing in the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) World Cup in Whistler in March and hopefully qualify for the 2010 Paralympic Games,” said Mosher.

“Basically my understanding is that I have to get within 15 per cent of first place in a World Cup or a World Championship to qualify, and then the team will pick whoever is better,” he said. “It’s definitely tough because (the team) wants to send the best people, and anyone making the cut has to be really competitive — keeping in mind that (visually impaired skier) Brian McKeever also competes as an able-bodied athlete at the World Cup level, that’s the level they’re looking for in the standing athletes.”

For Mosher, who spends his summers running a landscaping business, the goal is to peak physically for the World Cup and World Championships much later in the season. “Due to the fact that I’m running a full-time business and I’m on two nationals teams (including para-snowboarding), I just don’t have as many opportunities to train, but my fitness is good and now I’m able to concentrate on both cross-country and snowboarding.”

The snowboarding side is picking up since Whistler hosted an inaugural World Cup race last season. This season there could be three events between Italy, Canada, and the U.S., and para-snowboarding is being considered for inclusion in the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.

The format selected is slingshot, which is basically time trial snowboardcross. The sport mixes both freestyle and race techniques, is attractive to young snowboarders with disabilities, and there is no judging involved — something that is difficult because of the range of disabilities and classifications in Paralympic sports.

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