It’s been a hot start to 2024 in the Bow Valley winter sports world.
Though only a few weeks into the new calendar year, many local athletes have made an impression in their respective sports locally, nationally, and internationally.
This past weekend was particularly busy, with a range of young and veteran athletes throwing stones at the Rocky Mountain Mixed Doubles Classic, sharp shooting targets at the IBU biathlon trials, navigating frozen trails at the Nordiq Canada trials, taking part in an array of World Cups and even body-slamming foes onto the mat in professional wrestling.
While some competitions have happened, some are coming up soon for overseas competitions like Para Nordic Ski World Cup, Junior/U23 World Ski Championships, and in nearby Calgary for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, and Speed Skating World Championships.
Locally, the Bow Valley has some big events to look forward to in the upcoming events such as the cross-country skiing World Cup in Canmore (Feb. 9- 13) and the biathlon World Cup, also in Canmore, from March 14-19.
Local athletes have also started qualifying for the Alberta Winter Games (Feb. 16-19), which take place in I-can’t-believe-people-live-there Grande Prairie.
If there’s one thing the Bow Valley has a lovely abundance in, it’s sports.
While the Outlook would like to name every athlete for their personal feat, some honourable mentions for exceptional results are in order to local standouts Xavier McKeever, Matthew Strum, Jennifer Sachkiw and Eric Bearspaw.
McKeever, one of Canada’s best young cross-country skiers, stole the show at the Nordiq Canada trials, taking all the gold for himself like a mythical dragon hoarding treasure. The 20-year-old easily made Canada’s U23 world championship roster, but said he plans on racing at the Canmore World Cup instead.
Laying the smackdown, Stoney Nakoda’s Eric Bearspaw a.k.a. Chief Littlefoot, a professional wrestler for Micro Wrestling Federation made his television debut on the Discovery show Big Little Brawlers.
Strum, a biathlete who never quit on his dream, is back on the international stage after a double gold performance at the local IBU trials. After some health issues that kept him away from competition for nearly two years, the 28-year-old returned in style and will join Biathlon Canada’s IBU Cup overseas this month.
Sachkiw, a Banff curler, became the first local to advance to the playoffs at the Rocky Mountain Mixed Doubles Classic, with the exception of Olympic gold medallist John Morris. Competing against an insanely tough national and international field, the team of Sachkiw and Ryan Jacques got to the playoffs on the heels of a major victory over Team Australia’s Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt – the same team that beat Morris and Rachel Germain (Homan) at Beijing 2022.
The final shout-out is to the dedicated crew of organizers, staff and volunteers at the events. Without them, many of these great world-class events wouldn't arrive at our doorstep or have the strength to move forward. To them, the Outlook says kudos for all your hard work.
Job well done, gang.