Drury leads host Canadian ski cross team into chilly World Cup at Nakiska

Drury leads host Canadian ski cross team into chilly World Cup at Nakiska

NAKISKA, Alta. — It’s too cold for penguins, but not for ski cross racer Kevin Drury.

A cold front enveloping Alberta this week cancelled penguin walks at the Calgary Zoo, where tourists can witness the flightless birds waddling out and about.

Zoo staff said temperatures were colder than the penguins’ native Antarctica.

Toronto’s Drury, currently ranked first in men’s World Cup ski cross, says he’s impervious to cold.

So the prospect of icy racing at Nakiska Ski Resort west of Calgary bothered him not at all.

“I run hot and that’s not an exaggeration,” the 31-year-old told The Canadian Press.

“When it’s really cold out, I actually don’t wear socks in my boots. My feet are so hot they get sweaty and if I have a sock, it gets soaking wet and then it freezes. Just the foam of the boot creates kind of a sauna.

“I’m meant to be a winter athlete. Doesn’t work so well in the summer, but good in the winter.”

A dozen Canadians will race Saturday at Nakiska in the fifth of eight World Cup races this season.

Drury and Kris Mahler of Canmore, Alta., currently rank first and second respectively in men’s ski cross.

2014 Olympic champion Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., sits third among women behind leader Sandra Naesland of Sweden and No. 2 Fanny Smith of Switzerland.

In ski cross, an athlete races three competitors down a course of turns and jumps. The top two advance to the next round with the goal of reaching the four-skier final.

Saturday’s races were seeded from individual timed runs held Friday in a windchill of minus-25 at Nakiska. The mercury is predicted to rise slightly Saturday to minus-20.

FIS, the world governing body of skiing and snowboarding, doesn’t set a minimum temperature for races.

An onsite race jury ultimately decides whether it’s safe for a race to proceed.

Downhill skiers in skintight suits travelling at speeds over 130 kilometres per hour feel the cold more during a race than ski cross racers, who compete in thicker clothes on shorter courses.

But the latter make multiple trips up the mountain as they advance through heats and elimination rounds.

Cooling off on the chair lift means expending energy to warm up again to race.

Canadian women’s team racer Courtney Hoffos, who does not run hot like Drury, has a strategy to manage temperature fluctuations.

“It’s a lot of hydration, a lot of snacks,” said the 22-year-old from Invermere, B.C. ”Really having your energy high.

“I feel like when everyone else is warm, I’m never. I’m always cold I feel like. I’ve got my heated socks on and set to six out of nine all day. Got my hot pockets in my hands. I am wearing as much as I possibly can.”

The Canadian team raced in windchill closer to minus-30 in last weekend’s national championship in Red Deer, Alta.

“Kevin and I switched gloves in the start area for a bit,” Hoffos said. ”I basically cooled down his gloves. He warmed mine up for me.”

Drury won races in France, Switzerland and Italy in the first half of the season. Mahler, 24, collected his first career victory and placed second in another race.

“I would have said two years ago would have been a breakout season when I was third overall, but for sure definitely I’m next level of breakout,” Drury said.

Reigning Olympic men’s champion Brady Leman of Calgary ranks eighth with one podium result this winter.

Drury, Leman, Mahler, Montreal’s Chris Del Bosco, Reece Howden of Cultus Lake, B.C., and Gavin Rowell of Prince George, B.C., posted times in the top 32 on Friday to qualify for Saturday’s heats.

The top 16 made the cut in a smaller women’s field, so their competition will start with quarterfinals.

Thompson, 2018 Olympic silver medallist Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que., India Sherret and Zoe Chore of Cranbrook, B.C., Edmonton’s Abby McEwen and Calgary’s Antoinette Tansley advanced to Saturday.

The Canadian ski cross team wears stickers on their equipment in memory of teammate Mikayla Martin, who died in a mountain biking accident Oct. 1 in her hometown of Squamish, B.C.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced more than 1,500 active cases in Alberta Monday afternoon and five additional deaths. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New COVID rules coming

Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

(Black Press file photo.)
Rocky police charge three suspects after pellet gun shootings

Three incidents results in several injuries

Red Deer city council gave final approval to a mask bylaw that will go into effect on Nov. 30. (Black Press file photo).
Red Deer city council approves mask bylaw that takes effect on Nov. 30

It could be ‘superceded’ by a provincial mask bylaw, if one is announced Tuesday

Lynn Van Laar, chair of this year’s Christmas Wish Breakfast, said the event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) knocks a pass away from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood, left, fights for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, N.J., on November 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Canada's head coach Dave Lowry during practice at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. The Winnipeg Jets have hired Lowry as an assistant coach. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, returns a shot to Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the fourth round of the US Open tennis championships in New York on September 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Seth Wenig
A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

Sacramento Kings' Alex Len (25) collects a rebound against Brooklyn Nets' Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ashley Landis
Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Canadian Joint Operations Commander Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau speaks during a news conference on the recent Canadian Forces helicopter crash, Tuesday, May 19, 2020 in Ottawa. The Canadian Armed Forces is preparing to formally apologize to victims of sexual misconduct. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian Armed Forces to formally apologize to victims for sexual misconduct

Canadian Armed Forces to formally apologize to victims for sexual misconduct

Alberta Liberal Party David Khan at a campaign stop in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 11, 2019. The Alberta Liberal Party says its leader, David Khan, is stepping down. A news release from the party on Sunday evening says Khan is accepting a new job in law. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Liberal Party says leader, David Khan, stepping down to accept new job in law

Alberta Liberal Party says leader, David Khan, stepping down to accept new job in law

Most Read