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2002 Keskinada 50k Media Clippings
By:  Karl Saidla   (2002/02/17)


The Keskinada is truly a world-class event, and deserves recognition as such. XCOttawa.ca would like to thank the organizers of the Keskinada for putting on such a great event. We look forward to being key participants in the coming years. Here's some of the press the event recieved this past week.

Ottawa skiers dominate cross-country races
Sarah Peters, Karl Saidla post career-best victories

Kris Westwood
The Ottawa Citizen

Monday, February 18, 2002

Two Ottawa-area cross-country skiers scored career-best victories yesterday in the men's and women's 50-kilometre freestyle races of the Keskinada loppet in Gatineau Park.

"I can't believe it," Sarah Peters of Navan said with a gasp after crossing the finish line in two hours, 43 minutes and 57 seconds, nearly five minutes ahead of the second-placed woman. "This is huge, this is amazing."

Peters, 24, gave a dominant performance, leading the last 45 kilometres of the race in conditions made difficult by strong winds blowing 10 centimetres of fresh snow across the course.

Peters had been part of the national development team, based in Thunder Bay, but lost her spot two years ago because of illness. She decided to return to Ottawa and race as an independent, financing her comeback with part-time work in a bakery and sponsorship from a ski company.

Her best previous result was seventh in the North American Cup.

"Winning a world loppet is so much better than that," she said.

Sandy Tetreault of Old Forge, New York, finished second in 2:48:41. Gabrielle Nadeau of Cap Rouge, Que., was third in 2:49:10.

The men's race was much closer.

Robin McKeever of Canmore, Alta., and Jean Paquet of Val Belair, Que., started fast and opened a two-minute lead on their pursuers, but the tough conditions took them, allowing Ottawa's Karl Saidla and Lee Churchill to work together to close the gap.

Paquet and Churchill fell back late in the race, but Saidla caught and passed McKeever with seven kilometres to go and went on to win in 2:22:04.

William Fitzgerald of Thunder Bay also overtook McKeever, finishing second, 16 seconds behind Saidla. McKeever ended up third in 2:22:49, with Paquet fourth and Churchill eighth.

Like Peters, Saidla, 24, is also a former Thunder Bay development athlete who recently returned to Ottawa, partly to join the newly formed XC Ottawa club.

Saidla acknowledged the sacrifice that Churchill, his teammate, made to help him win.

"We decided to do a team effort," Saidla said. "We do a lot of training together. It's a really good atmosphere."

The 25-kilometre race, held at the same time as the 50-kilometre event, featured a surprise performance by Montreal's Dasha Gaiazov, who was not only the fastest woman, but also ninth overall out of 396 finishers.

Gaiazov, 18, emigrated from Russia with her parents three years ago. This year, she won virtually every race she entered, and she was selected to represent Canada in the junior world championships in Germany, but couldn't go because she won't become a Canadian citizen until summer.

Patrice Côté of Chicoutimi was the men's 25-kilometre champion with a time of 1:25:16.

Ottawans Conquer the Hills

Monday, February 18, 2002

A couple of Ottawa skiers struck gold yesterday in the Gatineau Hills.

Karl Saidla and Sarah Peters won the men's and women's 50-km freestyle races, respectively, in the Keskinada Loppet.

On the final day of one of the top cross-country ski events in North America, athletes from all over the world faced the gruelling 25- and 50- km freestyle races through the windy and challenging trails of Gatineau Park.

Local skiers were in abundance and Ottawa's best showed their strength and the way to the podium in the toughest race of all, the 50-km event.

Saidla, 25, skiing for the new X-C Ottawa Club, was the first to cross the finish line in two hours, 22 minutes and four seconds for his first Keskinada victory.

"It was just great," said Saidla. "There were difficult conditions over the course.

"Two years ago, I came in 13th, and four years ago sixth. This year, I did it."

Victory was also sweet for Peters, 24, who won the women's event in 2:43.57.

"It was amazing. This is huge for me," said an emotional Peters. "It's my home town and my home race.

"I won this race for my best friend, Jeff Campbell, who died eight years ago on this day. I wanted to win for him."

Both Peters and Saidla grew up in Ottawa and have skied the Gatineau Hills for many years.

They also both skied with the Nakkertok X-C Racing Club, then undertook the national team development program in Thunder Bay, but eventually returned to Ottawa.

"I've skied these hills for about 15 years, and I can say that I know this course like the back of my hand. It helps," said Saidla. "During this race, I wasn't in the lead until the last 3 km, then I went for it."

The large amount of snow that fell Saturday night turned the race into a more tactical and technical one.

"Where there were open areas, the snow was deep and that slowed everyone down," said Peters. "I saw my coach at the 30-km mark and he told me to focus on technique, which really helped.

"There was one area toward the end of the course where I had to be careful, a hill where other skiers can easily catch you up." Unfortunately for Saidla and Peters, their victories yesterday don't count for points in the national rankings, but they're looking ahead to the Canadian nationals, which will be held in Canmore, Alta., March 5-10.

"(The Keskinada Loppet) is a big race, and coaches can notice you here. The nationals are the next step for me. I would love to go as far as I can with skiing. It's such a great sport," said Saidla.

"I'm heading to the nationals and one of my long-term goals is to participate in the 2006 Olympics and to ski internationally for Canada," said Peters.

Earlier in the day, Patrice Cote of Ste- Catharine, Que., won the men's 25-km freestyle with a time of 1:25.16, while Dasha Gaiazov of Montreal captured the women's 25-km event in 1:35.58.

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