International experience leads Canada’s FISU cross-country skiing roster

VANCOUVER, BC –  The Canadian delegation for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter University Games is continuing to come together, as Nordiq Canada and U SPORTS announced the cross-country skiing roster for the events in northern New York. 

Like many other sports, including alpine skiing, the cross-country team features 12 athletes, six men and six women. They’re set to compete between Jan. 13, 2023, and the final day of the Games on Jan. 22, striving for medals in various events.

The student-athletes had to be nominated by coaches, with Robbie Weldon, Devon Kershaw, Maria Lundgren, Alain Masson, John Lofranco, Julie Beaulieu, Kate Boyd and Chirs Jeffries putting eligible athletes forward. 

The final selections were approved by Nordiq  Canada’s Olympic high performance director, Chris Jeffries. 

The dozen athletes will look to bring a second FISU Games medal to Team Canada, which has only been podiumed once since the sport made its debut at the first-ever FISU Winter Games of Chamonix 1960. That bronze medal was won by the men’s relay team at Belluno 1985. 

Experience leads the men’s team

Aiden Kirkham (Ottawa Nordiq Twitter)

Taking on the former Olympic trails of Mount Van Hoevenberg, the Canadian delegation welcomes back two student-athletes who have previously competed at a FISU Games, with the University of Ottawa’s Aiden Kirkham and Nipissing’s Alexander Maycock rejoining Team Canada after making their FISU debuts at Krasnoyarsk 2019. 

Kirkham competed in five events at the 2019 Games, finishing 29th in the 30km mass free start. However, there were five Russian skiers ahead of him, and Team Russia will not be permitted to participate in Lake Placid. As well, Kirkham will be on the older side of the Games as a 24-year-old in a U25 competition. 

Maycock’s top result was a 26th-place finish in the men’s sprint free final.

Also highlighting the men’s team is national development athlete Conor McGovern of the Lakehead Thunderwolves, who finished fourth in the individual standings at the last National University Championships in Whistler, BC, the host venue for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. 

Also joining the team are Nipissing’s Joseph Hutton, Calgary’s Robin Mason, and CEGEP Saint-Jerome’s Antoine Nicol. 

Williams a contender in the women’s events

On the women’s side, Bronwyn Williams of the Carleton Ravens headlines the team and will bring Team Canada experience, having skied for her country at the 2022 World Junior Championship and U23 World Championships earlier in 2022. Williams, 22, finished the U23 worlds with a 49th place in the 10km classic against many of the same faces she’ll compete against at Lake Placid 2023. 

She was also named to the Lucerne 2022 FISU Universiade roster that never got to compete. 

Just last weekend, Williams won the distance event at the Eastern Canada Cup, and could be within medal contention come Lake Placid. 

While the men’s roster is veteran reliant, the women’s skews much younger, rounding out with Carleton’s Katherine Mason, Emmanuelle Simard of Laval, Calgary’s Nathalie Thain, Laurentian’s Sophie Tremblay, and University of Alberta Augustana’s Reese Bendiksen. 

Bendiksen, primarily a cross-country skier, also runs cross-country for the Alberta Augustana Vikings of the Alberta collegiate ranks. 

Team Manitoba coach from the Canada Games, Steven Wintoniw, will help lead the Canadian FISU team alongside Diane Poncelet.

WOMEN

  • Reese Bendiksen – University of Alberta Augustana
  • Katherine Mason – Carleton University
  • Emmanuelle Simard – Laval University
  • Nathalie Thain – University of Calgary
  • Sophie Tremblay -Laurentian University
  • Bronwyn Williams- Carleton University

MEN

  • Joseph Hutton – Nipissing University
  • Aidan Kirkham – University of Ottawa
  • Robin Mason – University of Calgary
  • Alexander Maycock -Nipissing University
  • Conor McGovern- Lakehead University
  • Antoine Nicol – Cegep Saint-Jérôme

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