Three Gee-Gees (right) finished third at the OUA exhibition relays. Photo: Courtesy of Jesse Williams.
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Members hope to officially compete against other universities

In just its second year, the University of Ottawa Nordic ski club is still at the earliest stage of development. But that’s not a concern for the members of the group, who are determined to get themselves “competitive club” status from the university.

Fourth-year student Jesse Williams explained that he founded the club last year to fill a gap that he saw in the school’s sports system.

“(The) U of O did have a varsity ski club in the far past and it was something that the university was lacking,” he said. “The cross-country ski community in Ottawa is the largest in eastern Canada, if not all of Canada, and Carleton has one of the strongest cross-country ski teams in the Ontario university circuit. So it was something that there was definitely a want for.”

Williams said that the club currently has about 12 members, though the number can fluctuate throughout the year.

The ski club participated in two major tournaments this year: the Canadian Eastern Championships from Feb. 3 to 5, and the Ontario University Athletic (OUA) Nordic Championships on Feb. 24.

For the members of the U of O’s Nordic ski club, the biggest disappointment was only being able to compete in the exhibition race at the OUAs.

That’s where the competitive club status comes in. First-year student and Nordic ski club member Nathan Forestell said that the main goal is just to get recognition from the university.

“Certainly we are competitive at a varsity level. I mean we were at OUA championships and (during) the 10 km skate race every single member of our team beat the entire U of T ski team, and we ranked highly among other universities. So I think it would be awesome, first and foremost, (to get) an acknowledgement from the university that we are being competitive at this level.”

The club is currently meeting with Sports Services to begin the process of being recognized as a competitive club. Williams feels that gaining this status could even increase the university’s enrolment.

“Because this is one of the largest communities for skiing in the country, a lot of people who I know from clubs in the region tend to go to (Carleton), which happens to have a varsity team, but it would definitely increase the likelihood of people coming here.”

Meg Sinclair, who’s in her first year of teacher’s college, has filled in as a coach for the team. Sinclair said that the team is planning on submitting a formal proposal to Sports Services by March 30.

She also emphasized that while university funding would be great, they are much more interested in obtaining competitive club status, just to be able to officially go head-to-head with other universities.

“We are quite self-sufficient, but without the competitive club status we’re not technically OUA status,” said Sinclair.

Sinclair and the rest of the team are going to keep trying to get competitive club status for possibly as soon as next year. She feels that competitive status could help persuade skiers who are currently attending the U of O as students to join the club.

“What we’re looking for is the status to attract higher-level skiers. Because a lot of really high-level skiers actually do attend the University of Ottawa, but they outsource to other coaches and clubs.”

“I think the fact that we’re self-sufficient, and we train hard, and we’re dedicated athletes, hopefully will be enough for the criteria for them.”