Media Release

Julian Smith and Dahria Beatty Sprint to Top Canadian Spots at Nordiq Canada Selection Trials in Prince George

January 18, 2023

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. –Julian Smith and Dahria Beatty struck first for Canada at the Nordiq Canada Selection Trials in Prince George, B.C. on Wednesday.

Smith won the men’s classic cross-country ski sprint race, while Beatty was the top Canadian finishing third in women’s action. The event is being used to select Canadian athletes to compete at FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Slovenia (February 22 – March 5) and the FIS World Junior/U23 Nordic Ski Championships at Whistler Olympic Park (January 27 – February 5).

A veteran versus rising-star showdown unfolded in the men’s cross-country ski sprint with Julian Smith (Oxenden, Ont.) and Xavier McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) dominating the results sheet all day.

Finishing one-two respectively in the qualifying round, the 26-year-old Smith and 19-year-old McKeever cruised through their quarter- and semifinal heats before meeting clashing in the final round at the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club.

“I went in with one simple plan of skiing from point A to point B as fast as possible,” said Smith, a former member of the National Ski Team “I knew that would be my best chance of getting a good qualifying spot and winning the heats. Execution today was the most important for my game plan and it paid off in the end.”

Exercising his race tactics to near perfection on the course that features one early long climb, and one big downhill, Smith followed a similar plan throughout the heats, tucking himself into third spot in the pack until the top of the climb before making his move on the downhill.

“That was the plan to be in third in the pack and then use strong, good cornering on the downhill and allow my skis to take me into the lead,” said Smith. “And then, as soon as I was in the lead, there was one goal and that was double pole as fast as possible to the finish. I was just letting my skis take me today.”

Smith outlasted one of the sports hottest prospects in Canada in the double-pole finish. Xavier McKeever was fourth going down the hill before changing his line to slingshot himself into second spot overall.

“My main focus was to go out and ski race,” said McKeever. “I’m trying to use this event as my preparation for World Juniors which starts in 10 days, so I wanted to go out, race the best I could and see what happens. This was a fun course. Julian was really strong today, so I am super happy overall.”

Another former National Ski Team athlete, Julien Locke of Nelson, B.C, was third.

Poised to compete in his fifth World Junior Championship and first on home snow with Canada hosting the 2023 Nordic festival at Whistler Olympic Park, the young McKeever is also in the mix to earn one of 12 spots on Team Canada for the senior World Championships.

“The Word Juniors is the biggest goal for me so that is my focus. If I go to Senior World Champs, then that is a bonus for me. The main thing is trying to get to World Juniors and performing there,” added McKeever.

An international battle took shape in the women’s race.

Dealing with fatigue after coming off the grueling seven-race Tour de Ski, 28-year-old Dahria Beatty grinded out a strong performance through rain, snow and difficult snow conditions to finish as the top Canadian, placing third, in the first women’s race at the 2023 Trials.

“I was really hoping to get a World Champs qualification today, so I’m happy to do that,” said Beatty, a two-time Olympian. “I’ve been focusing on rest this week to try to get as much energy back for here. I definitely wasn’t feeling a 100 per cent recovered (from the Tour), but I tried to ski tactically smart and give it everything I have. I definitely had some luck on my side in the final.”

After posting the third fastest qualifying time on the 1.1-kilometre technical track to punch her ticket into the head-to-head heats, Beatty breezed through her round of 30 and semifinal heat before an elite match with Olympic teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and a pair of Polish skiers ensued in the final.

“It was soft conditions. The tracks were gone by the time the heats came around. I had to try to be as efficient as possible on the climbs, and on the downhills if you could push hard into them and be strategic on your line you could gain back your time and push ahead from the field. I tried to stay with it on the uphills so that I could ski tactically well on the downhill.”

Bouffard-Nesbitt (Morin Heights, Que.) was in full control throughout the day, leading the nation’s best skiers up, down and around the technical Prince George course until the final downhill into the stadium when she crashed, Beatty jumped into the final spot on the women’s podium behind the two Polish skiers.

“On that final climb I was just trying to minimize the gap. This course has some sketchy downhills, and anything is possible,” said Beatty. “Olivia really put the hammer down today. I just kept pushing and trying to stay as close as possible. There was some contact in the fall and I was able to capitalize on that. It was unfortunate for those in the fall but that is sprint racing.”

Poland’s Izabela Marcisz won the women’s sprint. Her teammate, Monika Skinder, finished closed behind in second.

Complete Nordiq Canada Selection Trials Results:

Open Men                              

  1. Julian Smith (Oxenden, Ont.
  2. Xavier McKeever (Canmore, Alta.)
  3. Julien Locke (Nelson, B.C.)

Open Women 

  1. Izabela Marcisz (Poland)
  2. Monika Skinder (Poland)
  3. Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse)

Top Open Canadian Women

  1. Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse)
  2. Katie Weaver (North Vancouver)
  3. Liliane Gagnon (Quebec City)

U23 Men 

  1. Sasha Masson (Whitehorse)
  2. Kendyn Mashinter (Thunder Bay, Ont.)
  3. Erikson Moore (Quebec)

U23 Women

  1. Izabela Marcisz (Poland)
  2. Monika Skinder (Poland)
  3. Liliane Gagnon (Quebec City)

Top U23 Canadian Women

  1. Liliane Gagnon (Quebec City)
  2. Jasmine Lyons (Ottawa)
  3. Marielle Ackermann (Kimberley, B.C.)

U20 Men

  1. Xavier Mckeever (Canmore, Alta.)
  2. Luke Allan (Ottawa)
  3. Finn Redman (British Columbia)

U20 Women

  1. Alison Mackie (Edmonton)
  2. Alexandra Luxmoore (Revelstoke, B.C.)
  3. Anna Stewart (Thunder Bay, Ont.)

More than 160 athletes have descended on the Caledonia Nordic Ski Cub for the 2023 Nordiq Canada Selection Trials in hopes of representing Canada at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Slovenia and the FIS World Junior/U23 Nordic Ski Championships at Whistler Olympic Park.

Nordiq Canada has a quota of 12 athletes, minimum four female and four male athletes for the 2023 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. To date, one female (Katherine Stewart-Jones – Chelsea, Que.) and one male athletes (Antoine Cyr – Gatineau, Que.) have met the criteria. Graham Ritchie (Parry Sound, Ont.)  will be nominated by High-Performance Director’s discretion. The three races at the Trials will be used to select the remaining spots, as well as alternates for both genders.

Nordiq Canada will send 24 athletes to the 10-day U23/World Junior event which brings together the best 16 to 23-year-old cross-country skiers, as well as athletes in Nordic combined and ski jumping, from 50 countries to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic venue.