Racing hard at OUAs. Photo: Courtesy of UOttawa Nordiq Skiing.
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Exciting things ahead for new competitive club

Nordiq Skiing, the University of Ottawa’s newest competitive club, made a big entrance at the Ontario University Athletic (OUA) championship.

The men’s team placed fourth overall, and the women’s placed fifth, with six men and five women attending the event for the U of O at Nipissing University.

The OUA has drawn plenty of positive attention from around the skiing community, as this is the first time the event held the women’s track the same length as the men’s.

Zeke Williams describes the U of O’s first OUA event in over 20 years as “exciting and a very big opportunity for the team.”

“We didn’t know how we would fall relative to the top three teams (Carleton, Lakehead, Nipissing). So it was an exciting event for us to finally be sending a team after so long,” Williams said. “With that in mind we went in with no major expectations, but it ended up being quite competitive.”

Williams placed 12th at the individual race on Feb.17, having recently returned to competitive skiing after a five-year break.

The avid skier is a master’s student at the University of Ottawa studying math and statistics with interest in theoretical neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

His skiing experience is just as impressive, as he started to compete in cross-country by the age of 11, with several tournaments and professional experience in Canada and across Europe.

The OUAs were held over three days within various track lengths and contest dynamics. The first day consisted of a 12-kilometer track with a mass start, which is where all the individuals start at the same time. Williams described this scenario as “super exciting” because the trail goes from an open field to a tight “bottleneck” situation, where all of a sudden everyone is bound together.

The second day comprised of individual races on a 7.5-kilometer track, where the U of O’s Ben Milley placed sixth and Katherine Denis placed 10th.

In fact, Denis is currently in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, representing Canada at the FISU World University games.

“It’s in remote Russia. The competition is internationally known. Skiers in Europe see this event as a big opportunity, (unfortunately) there’s not as much hype in it in North America, but in terms of competition it’s very legit,” Williams said. “They have a whole athlete’s village for them.”

With the team’s success comes harder work for the days ahead. Williams said the next step for the team is to train for the Canadian National Championships (CNC), which is being held at his home club Nakkertok.

The championship will start on March 13, where there will be five races in the course of 10 days.

Williams said he’s looking forward to skiing with Milley at the CNC. He said Milley is “somebody to look out for” in this event as his skills keep advancing, as well as the team as a whole.