North Vancouver’s Katie Weaver has kicked her cross-country skiing career into high gear recently, joining the national team for a series of World Cup races in Europe this winter.
Weaver, a member of the Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club, took part in individual and team sprint races at a World Cup event held in Dresden, Germany, Jan. 11-12. The 22-year-old be back in the groove for a World Cup event this weekend in Oberstdorf, Germany, followed by another World Cup stop in Falu, Sweden Feb. 8-9. Weaver is also on the start list for a World Cup event scheduled for March 14-15 in Quebec City.
Weaver took time out from her training in Europe to send the North Shore News this description of how she got to this point and what life is like on the World Cup circuit:
I raced in my first World Cup in 2017 in Quebec City. I got that opportunity because when a country hosts a World Cup they get extra quota spots to provide opportunity for athlete development. That was a really great experience, but I found it super overwhelming. I had never raced at such a high level and in front of such a huge crowd. My heart was racing during my warm up and I felt more like a spectator than a competitor. This World Cup trip is my first experience racing on the World Cup circuit in Europe.
Last week in Europe felt different than my experience in Quebec City. I felt a lot more calm and confident. I felt more like a competitor than a spectator. The skate sprint race on the Saturday was a good start to this racing period. However, I felt like I was missing the intensity and aggression in my skiing that I needed to qualify in the top 30 in order to race in the heats.
On the Sunday I raced in the team sprint with one of my best friends, and we really fought hard. Unfortunately I fell after getting tangled up with another skier in the exchange zone halfway through the race, and we lost contact with the pack. I felt like I was really competing with some of the strongest skiers on the World Cup circuit that day, so I’m excited to carry this momentum forward to the next world cup races in Oberstdorf, Germany, and Falun, Sweden.
The trials races for this trip were held in December in Canmore and Gatineau. The criteria stated that they would take a team of four women and four men. After winning the qualifier and placing third in the final in Gatineau, I was the 4th girl on the ranking list for this trip. I knew I had probably made it as soon as I crossed the line. I was really excited and happy with my performance.
This weekend there is a classic technique sprint race in Oberstdorf, Germany, and another in a few weeks in Falun, Sweden. The classic sprint is my favourite race, and the one where I see my best results.
My goal is to achieve my peak performance in both qualifiers coming up. In cross country skiing sprint races, there is a qualifying round in which individuals race the course with 15 second intervals in between each racer. From there only the top 30 racers from the qualification round get to race in the head to head heats. If I am able to have a great performance in the qualifier rounds and achieve a top 30 result, I would move onto the heats and get to race the best in the world, head to head. Achieving a top 30 result in the next races would be amazing.
Sprint racing on the World Cup in Europe has been a goal of mine for a long time. I’ve always had my best results in sprint racing and I’ve always believed that if I worked hard and persevered through setbacks that I could race at this level. Cross country skiing is a late peaking sport, with most skiers being at their best in their late 20s and early 30s.
Patience and motivation with a long-term goal in mind is really important, especially when it feels like the goal is a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Some years it felt like I wasn’t improving, and that I may never reach my performance goals. What helped me get here was my teammates, coaches and the ski community. I’m really lucky to be part of such a supportive group of people with the Hollyburn Ski Club. I had really fun teammates growing up. We got though a lot of miserable workouts by making each other laugh, and pushed each other to be the best skiers we could be.
The volunteer coaches and people in the club create a really supportive environment. They make Hollyburn a team that I’m really proud to be a part of. I now live and train in Canmore, Alta., with the Rocky Mountain Racers, but still race as a Hollyburn club member.
It feels really exciting to be competing in sprint races on the World Cup. This is a great opportunity for me as a skier and I hope that everything comes together on the race day. I’ve had a really good year of training and now I just have to show the hard work that I’ve put in on race day!
Since I qualified for this trip I also qualified for the World Cup Sprint Finals in Quebec City and Minneapolis in March. I’m really excited to race in front of a home crowd and use the experience I gain here in Europe to fuel me towards bigger goals.