December 8, 2017 10:11 pm

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre gears up to host Olympic hopefuls

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Nordic skier Bob Thompson is hoping to head to the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018.

Good finishes at his races this weekend at Sovereign Lake near Vernon could help him reach that goal.

“Having good races here would mean good points to carry me through the season, the confidence that I’m in good shape and everything is going according to plan,” said Thompson, who practices at the National Team Development Centre in Thunder Bay.

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A strong showing would also mean a higher seed throughout the rest of the season, upping a shot at the Olympic dream.

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre is expecting approximately 580 skiers for the weekend’s 2017 Haywood Noram and USSA Super Tour events.

More than a dozen U.S. ski clubs are also attending the race.

For some American skiers, it could be their last chance to qualify for the Olympics.

“It’s a huge, huge opportunity for us to get involved with the U.S. ski industry and get those athletes up here,” said Sovereign Lake general manager Troy Hudson.

Senior skiers hit the slopes bright and early Friday morning to get used to the course and its conditions.

“It’s exciting but at the same time nerve-wracking and anxious,” said Alaska Pacific University’s head ski coach Erik Flora.

“We have 15 athletes on our team and there’s probably about 15 different ways to get ready. Today they came out and tested skis,” Flora said. “They did a little bit of training, some fast, some took it easy. It kind of depends where they’re coming from.”

Officials say conditions at Sovereign Lake have been great for training.

“There isn’t a single person not smiling. It’s been so good. The conditions are perfect. We’ve got the best weather we’ve had literally all season so far,” Hudson said.

Races start at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. They’re free to watch.

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