The Vikings felt right at home on the weekend at the Birkie, Canada’s premiere ski festival and the largest classical cross country event in North America. A total of 1890 skiers of all ages participated in the 19th annual Birkebeiner. Eight Vikings competed in various distances this weekend. The men’s 13 km event was dominated by the Vikings ski team from first to fifth place. Kieran Baird led the charge in first, with Andy Brisbin in second spot. Jon Skinstad was in hot pursuit in third place. Kyle Schrama and Joel Gervais followed in fourth and fifth positions. The only Viking to brave the long 55 km race distance was Keaton Bailey, who placed second in the 16-19 age category. Maja Zimmermann placed fourth in the women’s 13 km event. The conditions were fast and a good time was had by all.
The last competition for the Vikings (before traveling to Nationals) took place this last week in Canmore at the Western Canadian Championships. The weather was fantastic and the trail conditions were pristine, making this one of best events held in Alberta this season. In a very competitive field, the Vikings placed well in the sprint events on Thursday, February 19th. Maja Zimmermann had the best placing with a silver medal in the junior women’s category. Kai Skinstad led the senior men with a 15th place and a third place in the quarterfinal. Jon Skinstad was 19th, while Kyle and Joel were 21st and 22nd, respectively. The junior men had a great day with Andrew Brisbin placing ninth and Kieran Baird 12th.
Maja continued to place well all weekend with a second place on both Saturday and Sunday. Kyle Schrama had one of his best ever competitions on Saturday in the 10 km classic event with a 20th ranking in the senior men’s category. Joel Gervais had a great 20 km on Sunday, bettering his previous performances.
The rest of the weekend also showed that this young team is making their presence known on the circuit. Both Andrew and Kieran showed great improvement over their results at the same event last year, which bodes well for the Canadian Colleges and University Nordic Championships to be held in Duntroon, Ontario in two weeks time. The Vikings will field two strong teams in the “team sprint” event, with the student athletes travelling on March 6th. It will be exciting for the Skinstad brothers, Andrew, and Kieran to compete against the best in the country in this event. Joel Gervais will also be attending Nationals and as a first timer will gain much valued experience.
Jon and Kai Skinstad traveled to Edmonton for the Western Canadian Biathlon Championships. Jon won three gold medals during the weekend’s competitions. Both Jon and Kai have qualified for Team Alberta and the National Championships to be held in Quebec, thus reaching their season goal of competing at both National Championships for cross country skiing and biathlon. Congratulations go out to all the Vikings and their great season so far.