It wasn’t until late January that Russell Kennedy learned he would join ten other cross-country skiers to wear the maple leaf in the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, joining the team as one of five rookies.
Russell’s father Dave grew up on a farm on County Rd. 10 that is still owned by his brother Peter. The family all skied at local hills, and when Dave graduated from university, he headed west for a skiing job at Banff, where he met his wife Danae. Although the couple eventually moved to California, they continued to spend summers on their rural property in Millbrook, enjoying time with family.
Skiing seems to be in their blood. Russell competes in cross-country while his sister prefers alpine racing. Russell moved to Alberta from California during his last year of high school in 2010 to focus on his sport with a coach whose style meshed with his own. The decision has paid off. Kennedy has represented Canada internationally, and he was named the overall champion in the 2016-17 Nor-Am Cup circuit, nabbing two gold and three silver medals in his five January starts.
In Pyeongchang, Kennedy competed in three events; the classic sprint, the team relay, and the gruelling mass start run of 50km, the most physically demanding event in Olympic Cross-country competition.
For Kennedy, there will be more races. The skills required of Nordic skiers develop a little later in life, giving the twenty seven year old lots of runway ahead. This Olympic exposure will likely fuel his passion and drive for the sport, with many more trips to the podium ahead. KG