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Vermilion Nordic Skier Earns 7th At Nationals

Vermilion’s Samuel Ree grabs national attention at the 2017 Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships in Canmore from March 18 - 25.

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Vermilion’s Samuel Ree placed 7th at the Canadian National Cross Country Ski Championships in Canmore held March 18 - 25, for the Aggregate Juvenile Boys born in 2001.

The event saw 748 athletes, making it the biggest national cross country ski championships for youth in Canadian history. The venue, the Canmore Nordic Centre, was the site used during the 1988 Olympic Winter Games Nordic Events and has over 60 km of groomed trails and the largest snow-making system in North America.

“I was not expecting to place 7th. The conditions were hard, and I’ve never been to nationals before. I was expecting it to be more intense, with athletes from as far as Norway and Australia as well as all across Canada. I was really happy to share the news with my friends. I train on a race team of five people and the advantage of a small team is that I was able to have my own personal coach while I was there. It was awesome!” said Ree.

Ree performed a 5 km Interval Free Race (placing 18th), 7.5 km Interval Classical Race (placing 10th), 1.1 km Sprint Classical Race (placing 7th) and 10 km Mass Free Race (placing 28th). There were over 100 participants in each race, and after getting tangled up with another skier during the Mass Free Race, Ree’s parents and coach were overjoyed with the outcome, mentioning that he had originally hoped to place in the top 50.

The Vermilion Nordic Ski Club’s Race Team includes members Sean Ulrich, Mary Ulrich, Anna Ulrich, Sam Ree, and Caleb Ree. They and other Nordic Ski Club members split into Team Pole Gliders and Team Kick Sliders continuing a kilometer challenge that started last season, aiming to total the equivalent distance of skiing from Vermilion to the South Pole.

Sam Ree has been cross country skiing since he was 4 – years – old which has given him invaluable experience. Throughout the season, Ree also attended the eight Alberta Cup Races placing 3rd in the province for his age group. He hopes that his recent accomplishments may qualify him for the Alberta Development Team allowing him the opportunity to attend cross country ski camps.

“I never thought about nationals until we found out it was being hosted in Alberta; then I thought why not go,” said Ree.

Ree has already set the goal of attending Nationals next year, which will be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He plans to begin summer training soon by running and biking for triathlon; keeping up his cardiovascular strength and fitness, as well as playing soccer.

“I love the fact that cross country skiing is a simple sport. Regardless of your age you can train and go out and ski; from the time you are three or four all the way to eighty plus. It will be something I can do throughout my entire life now that I have done it as a child. It is a good way to stay healthy and keeps you really fit.

Also, going to races throughout Alberta and Canada, there is a really good ski community. After a race you congratulate your opponents. I have made a lot of friends that way, and I get to see them throughout the winter. It’s actually fun even though you have to ski up the hills,” said Ree.

“The results were extremely good; a lot more than I expected. Ree has been on the ski team for approximately six years, and I have been coaching for approximately 30 years. It was Ree’s 4th time racing in Canmore this year, so it was almost like having a home court advantage when you know the trails,” said Coach Vaughn Cooper.

When asked about facing teams of 40, Cooper suggested, “Approach the race the same way; fight through whatever discomforts there are. Ree will move up to a different age category next year, but it’s just another challenge.

I encourage racing smart over racing hard. Ree is getting more familiar with racing, and I am very proud of him. Clubs with all the top skiers in Canada were there, so overall 7th is amazing!” said Cooper.

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