The individual sprint this year at nationals was a unique one to say the least. With record-breaking temperatures melting all the snow on the Plains of Abraham, (the original venue) the races were moved to Mont Ste. Anne. The field consisted of Canada’s world cup team, talented young Norwegians, American and French skiers and a massive group of domestic racers. Because of the massive melt that had occurred in the days leading up to the sprint, the stadium had to be re-designed to accommodate patches of dirt, creeks and puddles. This resulted, for the first time I can remember, in heats being run 3 wide and two deep. The media was out in force, hounding Alex Harvey for photos, video, interviews and anything else they could get their hands on. TV cameras were set up around the course, hundreds of people were watching and cheering and the atmosphere was fantastic. The organizers did a great job of transforming incredibly wet, warm and dirty snow into a respectable course thanks in a large part to “salting” everything with fertilizer.
The competitive fields for both the men and the women made it incredibly difficult to qualify in the top 30 and move on to the heats. Andre Marchand was the closest to qualifying for the heats in 32nd place, only a third of a second from that critical 30th spot. Peter Beisel finished up in 44th, Matthias Purdon in 46th, Karl Saidla in 71st, Kyle Power in 72nd and Logan Potter in 86th. On the Women’s side, Megan McTavish was XCOttawa’s top qualifier in 34th, followed by Kyla Vanderzwet in 46th, Sheila Kealey in 47th, Vesta Mather in 49th, Ingrid Hagberg in 52nd and Katie McMahon in 57th.
At the end of a day of broken poles, crashes, and some of the most intense racing I’ve ever seen, Canadians Alex Harvey and Chandra Crawford prevailed in the senior mens and womens races. Here’s some pictures to give you a better idea of what it was like.
XCOttawa Alumni Colin Abbott
Andre with some interesting cornering technique.
Karl. Note the cut-off lifa shirt.