Graham Ritchie of the cross country skiing National Team Development Center punched his ticket to the U23 World Championships on Thursday, topping the men’s field at Day 1 of the Canadian Trials in Mont St Anne, Quebec. It was the first national Noram circuit win for the 22-year-old from Parry Sound, who is in his 3rd season with the Thunder Bay national development center.
Ritchie was joined on the podium by NTDC Thunder Bay teammate Pierre Grall-Johnson, who took 3rd in the Final after setting the fastest time of the day in sprint qualifying. Johnson has been a standout on the Noram circuit this season, setting the fastest qualifying time in three straight national sprint events. His result Thursday put him in a strong position to join Ritchie on the U23 World Championships squad.
Ritchie and Johnson had recently returned from racing for Team Canada on the World Cup circuit in Europe, which they qualified for after strong early season results. The duo will also represent Canada at home World Cup events in Quebec and Minneapolis in March.
On the Junior side, NTDC’s Kai Meekis skied to a strong 5th place, after finishing 4th in qualifying. The Thunder Bay native will be in the hunt for a spot on the Canadian World Jr team when racing resumes on Saturday with 10/15km individual start events.
Story and Photo from NTDC.