At last week’s Haywood NorAm in Ontario, Colin Abbott faced his last shot at qualifying for the U23 world championships.
After years of trying, he finally did it.
With strong performances in all three races, the Whitehorse cross-country skier was named to Team Canada for the FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, Jan. 20-27.
“Relief. Relief and excitement,” said Abbott, describing his reaction. “It was my last shot, my last year to be eligible for the under-23 championship, so it was pretty big to be able to make it.”
The 22-year-old had strong and consistent results at last week’s NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which was the trials for the U23 world championships.
Competing in the senior men’s division, Abbott skied to 16th in the 15-kilometre free Sunday, 12th in the 1.4-kilometre classic sprint Saturday and 14th in the 30-kilometre skiathlon on Jan. 3.
For U23 skiers those results translate to sixth on Sunday, third on Saturday and third on Jan. 3.
“I’m hoping for strong results in all three (races at the world championships) because the distances are the exact same as the trial races,” said Abbott. “I’m looking forward to all of them.
“I had some of my best races ever this past weekend and I think I can improve on that even more. So I’m really looking forward to that.”
Abbott, who is a member of the Yukon Elite Squad formed last April and the Yukon Ski Team, has been one of Whitehorse’s top skiers for years.
Last season Abbott took ninth in the open men’s 50-kilometre classic at the Haywood Nationals, the Canadian championship. He went on to place third overall in the U23 men’s aggregate category.
Abbott finished the season 22nd overall in last season’s NorAm Canada Cup circuit and is currently ranked 21st for this season. He also won the P’ayak 50-kilometre race out of 52 skiers in Whistler, B.C., last February.
Abbott skied on XCOttawa and his school’s team while attending Carleton University in Ottawa.
He raced at the World University Games and was named his university’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2010 after producing a first-place result at the Ontario University Championships that year.
He has also represented the Yukon at the 2007 and 2011 Canada Winter Games. Last season Abbott trained with the Callaghan Valley Training Centre in Whistler.
Abbott has also competed internationally in orienteering, representing Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships three times between 2008 and 2010.
Having one Whitehorse skier on Team Canada for the junior/U23 worlds is a sizable drop from last year. Whitehorse had a record five skiers compete at the 2012 junior/U23 world championships in Turkey.
The NorAm in Thunder Bay was also the first half of the selection process for the 2013 World Senior Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, Feb. 20-March 3.
Whitehorse has at least three skiers in the running for Canada’s worlds team.
Emily Nishikawa won three medals, including two gold, at the trials while brother Graham also won a gold in the skiathlon on Jan. 3. Whitehorse’s David Greer took in two eighth-place finishes.
The second half of the senior world trials will be in Duntroon, Ontario, Jan. 26-27.
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