CANMORE – For years, Laurence Dumais felt a shadow surrounding her goals.
The 22-year-old cross-country skier from Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, moved to Canmore during her senior year of high school with a minimal English background, pursuing dreams of competing internationally, and one day at the Olympics, in an environment that breeds world-class athletes.
She had promising results on the NorAm circuit, but the small victories never got her over the mountain and towards her major goals in the sport. The failures slowly ate away at her confidence and during Dumais’ hardest days, quitting the sport crossed her mind.
“I was definitely tired of it,” Dumais said. “It’s hard mentally to never achieve goals.”
Dumais realized the destructive headspace she had gotten herself in and decided to do something about it. Her training was fine, but mentally, things had to change. It started this season with the simple yet complex notion to believe in herself again, especially when it came to qualifying for the elite international competition, the U23 World Championships.
“I had a different mindset, and was working on staying focused and putting negative thoughts away,” she said. “My main thing was self confidence; I didn’t really believe I could achieve it.”
Returning to her home province for the U23 World Championships qualifiers last weekend in Mont Sainte-Anne, a reinvigorated Dumais landed on the podium once with a silver in 10-km interval and had two 11th place finishes among the junior and U23 women’s field.
On Tuesday (Feb. 4), Nordiq Canada officially announced that Dumais was one of 19 Canadians selected for the 2020 Junior and U23 World Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany from Feb. 28 to March 8.
However, a day before Nordiq Canada made it official, Dumais excitedly made public her first international ski competition selection on social media.
“When I qualified, it was such a great feeling,” she said. “It was my main goal this year and it has been my goal for the last three.”
The Alberta World Cup Academy product trains with teammates and Olympians Dahria Beatty and Emily Nishikawa. She has benefited from picking their brains about world cups and international competition.
Dumais said her main goal in Germany is to have a top 30 finish, which would mean she’d qualify for the Coop FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Canmore, March 19-22.
“Yeah, I think that’s definitely something I can do in Germany,” a confident Dumais said.
After years of heartbreak, the dark days for Dumais are reaching a dawn.
Along with Dumais, 18 Canadians qualified for the Junior and U23 World Championships, including rising cross-country ski stars Sam Hendry and Xavier McKeever.
.@NordiqCanada names 19 XC skiers going to FIS Nordic Jr and U23 world champs in Germany (Feb. 28-March 8), including #Canmore's Sam Hendry and Xavier McKeever. Also, shout out to Zoe Pekos representing a #Barrie club. @canmorenordic @FoothillsNordic @WorldCupAcademy #xcski pic.twitter.com/MXUaByFGZi— Jordan Small (@jordiesmall) February 4, 2020
“This is a young group with an exciting mix of international experienced athletes and first timers who are loaded with tremendous potential and drive,” said Erik Braten, National Team Coach, Nordiq Canada, in a press release.
“Many of our top juniors now have a year of international race experience under them, and I believe will demonstrate their potential while being led by a trio of the Under-23 men, who are also making their second-straight trip to the World Championships. I am excited to see how they all perform in Germany.”
The list of Canadian attendees includes junior women: Alberta World Cup Academy’s (AWCA) Elizabeth Elliott and Benita Peiffer, Black Jack Ski Club’s Jasmine Drolet and Molly Miller, and Skibec’s Liliane Gagnon.
Junior men: Canmore’s Xavier McKeever and Calgary’s Tom Stephen of Foothills Nordic, Black Jack’s Remi Drolet, Whistler Nordic’s Michael Murdock, and CNEPH’s Olivier Léveillé.
U23 women: AWCA’s Laurence Dumais, Barrie Cross Country’s Zoe Pekos, CNEPH’s Laura Leclair, and Lappe Nordic’s Annika Richardson.
U23 men: Canmore Nordic Ski Club’s Sam Hendry, Big Thunder Nordic’s Graham Ritchie, Nakkertok Nordic’s Pierre Grall-Johnson, Skibec’s Phillipe Boucher, and Skinouk CNEPH’s Antoine Cyr.