Good Friday this year was a day of sprinting at the Canadian Nationals at Whistler Olympic Park. XC Ottawa skiers Tom, Justin, Megan, Alana and Zoe represented the team in this star studded event.
Since this National Championships is the first big race to be held at the new Olympic venue for 2010, a larger than average field showed up, especially for the sprint. A big American contingent was there including World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall and World Cup medallists Andy Newell and Torin Koos. In addition to the Americans, a group of Swedish sprinters came to try out the course. These men, including Olympic Champion Bjorn Lind, Overall sprint world cup runner up Emil Jonnsen, Peter Larsson and Robbin Bryntesson. Of course, our own Canadian superstars were in attendance including Olympic Champion and two time World Cup champion Chandra Crawford, World Championships bronze medallist and Olympic team sprint silver medallist Sara Renner and World Cup medallist Devon Kershaw.
Needless to say, making the top 30 to compete in the Open Men's and Women's heats was a difficult task at these championships and in the end only 11 Canadian men and 15 Canadian women managed to squeeze in. Megan missed the boat by half a second and finished in 34th. It was a tight race with 29th to 35th clocking in within 1 second! Justin, Ed and Tom also raced strongly but also were left out of the heats.
Alana and Zoe both qualified to compete in the heats for the Junior Women's category and raced in the same heat. Alana finished 2nd in the quarter final and moved on to the semis. Zoe raced well and held on to the pack but ended her day with that heat. Alana ended up in the B-final and finished 10th overall, and 4th Canadian moving up significantly from her qualifying position from the morning. Good job girls!
The rest of us went out on course to watch the exciting Open category heats which ended up with a final for the women consisting of Chandra, Sara, Perianne Jones, Kikkan, Lindsay Williams and Liz Stephen. All of the girls were together going down the last hill with Kikkan taking the lead and Chandra hot on her heals. Around the last turn, heading into the finishing straight Chandra went down and Kikkan won handily with Sara coming in 2nd. Nakkertok skier Perianne Jones came in 4th. It was a very exciting race for all the spectators to watch such great North American talent in action.
The mens final included Devon Kershaw, Emil Jonnson, Peter Larsson, Bjorn Lind, Stefan Kuhn and American Garrot Kuzzy. It was a tight, clean, race which was dominated by the Swede Emil Jonnsen. Devon had a great race and finished in 3rd behind Emil and Peter Larsson. Stefan came in 5th.
Local Nakkertok skier Riel Allain won the Juvenile Boys category.
Next up, the long race on Sunday!