The Muskie Nordic skiing team never fails to impress and that rang true once again at the NWOSSAA championships in Atikokan last Thursday.
A total of four Muskies qualified for OFSAA later this month, which included the senior girls' team sweeping the podium in the high school division.
The smile on Muskie coach Jordan Baird's face couldn't have been bigger.
“I was proud of every racer at NWOSSAA,” Baird enthused.
“Everybody skied to the best of their ability and we had some phenomenal results. Having four OFSAA qualifiers in Angie Redford, Kayli Machura, Tori Toriseva and Emma Toriseva was the icing on the cake. We are excited to head to Huntsville later this month!”
Emma Toriseva was a standout once again in the junior girls' 3.7-K race, nabbing NWOSSAA gold with a time of 12:12 to advance to OFSAA.
As for the senior girls' 4.5-K race, it was a Muskie podium sweep in the high school division as Kayli Machura was first (15:23), Tori Toriseva took second (15:47) and Angie Reford nabbed bronze (16:51) to all advance.
Shayna Hensrud of the Kenora Broncos was the top club skier, placing first overall in the division with a time of 14:08 to nab NWOSSAA gold.
“Our skiers were successful because of their dedication in turning up to practice and working on the basics of technique and fitness,” Baird noted.
"They improve every session and work together in a mutually beneficial way. They are positive and determined, and have a wonderful attitude.
“They are very easy to coach. In Atikokan, they were prepared as well as they could be, fit and ready to compete,” he lauded.
As for the Muskies who didn't advance, Brooklyn Machura claimed silver in the Grade 7/8 girls' 3.7K race (14:35) while Ray Calder wound up seventh in the senior boys' 7.6K division (28:02).
“Our youngest skier, Brooklyn Machura, made massive improvements from her last race and was just five seconds from winning,” Baird said.
"Ray Calder jumped up a few more places and made it to seventh (8th overall) in the high school senior boys' division. Emma Toriseva managed to win her division overall, on top of the high school side. She beat the club skier who beat her in Kenora by a minute, [which is] a huge improvement.
“She will likely be a medal contender at OFSAA,” he predicted.
With NWOSSAA now in the books, the Muskies are looking forward to OFSAA, which is slated for Feb. 19-21 in Huntsville.
Baird noted that most of the Muskie skiers are still relatively inexperienced skiers and have plenty of areas to improve on ahead of the all-Ontarios, which is good news for them given how well they've already done so far this season.
“We will be continuing with our winning formula of working on the basics,” he revealed.
"We will focus on maintaining race fitness, perfecting technique and understanding race strategy that can be used in Huntsville.
“I expect that we will have our best ever results there,” he quipped.
"Our top senior girls are likely to push the top 20 spots in their division (there are usually over 100 competitors) and perhaps even better. I would not be surprised to see a ribbon (won by the top 8) and maybe even a medal.
“I anticipate Emma Toriseva will be a medal contender in the high school junior girls' division, based off her times this season as compared to last year, when she placed 12/129 as a Grade 9,” Baird recalled.
“She is much faster this year and has her sights set on a top spot.”