Agassiz’s Laurens van Vliet, 61, has come home from the Masters at Sovereign Lakes Provincial Park as the top fifth Canadian skier in his age group.
Now, he’s setting a goal to be at Vassaloppet in 2013, a cross country ski race considered to be the pinnacle of the sport.
“Sweden (where Vassaloppet takes place) is the biggest ski race in the world and is like the dream of every cross country runner who wants to run the Boston Marathon,” van Vliet says.
The 90-km, one-day event is the true test of cardiovascular fitness. In Sovereign Lakes, near Vernon, van Vliet raced 55 kilometres over three days.
His best time was in his third race, a 30 km stint across the countryside.
“I took seven minutes off my personal time,” he says, coming in at two hours, 55 seconds.
Yes, that’s an average of 15 km/hr.
It’s about the same pace he kept in the first race of the weekend, when he completed a 15 km race in 58 minutes, 31 seconds.
In that race, among about 50 competitors from around the world, he finished as the fifth Canadian.
“My aim is always to do my personal best,” he says. “And in two of the three races, I did that.”