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Pre-Olympic Groomer's Report #5 - Sprints
By:  Claudia Van Wijk   (2009/01/17)


An exciting day in the Sprints bowl of the Callaghan Valley - great fast conditions in this warm coastal BC climate. A big undertaking to run two World Cups side-by-side, XC Ski Sprints and Nordic Combined – made it fun for spectators and challenged the multitude of volunteers testing many different functions. The comment was made that there were probably 10 times more Volunteers sporting their navy blue Whistler Olympic Park jackets than spectators at today’s venue. It is Friday, but still Callaghan Valley is very much off the beaten track. Not to worry, TV cables line the race courses and feed was sent across to 30 million European viewers almost simultaneously. You will get to listen to Becky Scott and Jack Sassville tomorrow on CBC.

So how did the Canadians do? The women’s field had more competitors than the men’s – quite unique to a Sprint World Cup. Perrianne raced a strong Qualifier, finishing 5/100 sec ahead of teammate Sara Renner in the Qualifiers. Shayla Swanson and Dasha Giazova also qualified top 30. In the men’s field less Canadians qualified than expected, with Alex Harvey just off the bubble in 31st, but Devon Kershaw, David Nighbour and Sean Crooks making the cut.

Standing at the first steep climb, it became obvious that grip was crucial for the women. Peri’s stride long and powerful was beautiful to watch. Sara’s cadence incredible. Both raced strong in their heats – Peri’s heat had a false start. Too bad for her, as this start was stellar for her – not to be repeated Peri’s second start was a slow off the mark. She made it up in the first steep uphill left-hand-turn, going on the inside – gaining the top spot up the remainder of the 20m incline. Going a bit wide on the women’s corner she lost her placing, coming down the straight stretch in fourth. Almost recovered with a near photo finish, but ended up in fourth – 20th overall. Sara passed two skiers to get in front on the hairpin corner, but couldn’t keep her lead on the double pole turn to the finish and ended in third place - 15th overall.

David Nighbour had bad luck when a Russian skier cut him off and brought him to a near stop that he couldn’t recover from. Sean Crooks dug deep to trade top three spots through out the 1.6km course, landed in third position - not fast enough to capture the ‘lucky-loser’ spot. Devon Kershaw had a nerve racking beginner with two false starts, eliminating one athlete. He skied most of the course in the top group, entered the hairpin corner in fourth position, doubled poled his way into second in front of the home crowd finish stretch – just to be passed by a German skier - landing in third place. The heat time was fast enough for Devon to enter the Semi finals. A superb B Final for Devon – finishing 2nd (8th overall).

As soon as the XC Sprints were over, and medals were presented – Dirk drove the Pisten Bully 400 across his Laser guided classic finish lanes ( the story told in yesterdays report)…to ready the finish area for the Nordic Combined skate pursuit skiers.

Grooming the finish.

Tracks in the stadium are set using a laser sight to get them exactly straight.

Perianne Jones in the qualifier.

The hairpin turn into the stadium.

Interesting Reading. . .
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