Julien Locke of Nelson kicked off the 2019 Cross-Country Ski season in style after recently capturing the men’s Classic Sprint Title at the 2019 U.S. Cross-Country Ski Nationals in Craftsbury, Vermont.
Locke, a graduate of the Nelson Nordic Ski Club and now member of the Canadian National Ski Team, edged out Ben Saxton and Logan Hanneman of the United States to claim the Sprint Title.
Locke, who competes under the banner of the BlackJack Ski Club in Rossland, finished the race in a time of three minutes, 15.4 seconds. Saxton finished at 03:16.3 while Hanneman crossed the finish line at 03:16.5. Locke’s Canadian team Dominique Moncion-Groulx finished fifth.
“I actually wasn’t feeling so great this morning so I wanted to be a bit calm in the heats,” Locke was quoted on the FasterSkier website.
“And it was pretty obvious after the quarterfinal that that strategy was working because same thing there, I was a bit back at the start and then I could close down to the finish and I think a lot of guys were tying up because you know if you do a three minute sprint it’s a lot harder than doing a two minute sprint with a one minute warm-up, that’s kind of what I was doing today. I think it was just reinforcing that the first half of the course wasn’t very important.”
Locke, 25, entered the finals round in ninth position, but quickly moved up the ladder after winning the Quarterfinal 4 race in a time of 03:21.7. Locke continued his strong performance in the semi-finals, edging out Moncion-Groulx to capture the heat in a time of 03:17.8.
Born and raised in the Kootenays, the son of Catherine Locke and Arnie Hinke, now trains with the Black Jack Ski Team and competes on the FIS World Cup series as a member of the Canadian National Team.
He began skiing at the age of three and soon joined the Nelson Nordic Ski Club Jackrabbit program, which was organized by his mother Catherine Locke.
Locke’s desire to race far outweighed his enthusiasm for Rabbits, he completed all levels of Jackrabbits before moving on to the Junior Racing Team. From there, with the help of volunteer coaches such as Doris Hausleitner, Paul and Miriam Green, Mae Hooper, and others, Locke began competing at Kootenay Cups and the BC Midget Championships.
Swimming competitively in the summer and skiing in the winter, Locke entered in his first BC Cup at age 14 and his first National Championships at age 15.
In the spring of 2008, Locke joined the Black Jack Ski Team in Rossland and began training year round.
Locke has been skiing with Black Jack ever since and has steadily improved under the guidance of coach Dave Wood.