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Super-fan Matthias goes to the Canmore World Cup 2012
By:  Matthias Purdon   (2012/12/22)

Last week I had the opportunity to watch the World Cup races in beautiful Canmore Alberta. Seeing the races capped off a three-week trip out west that started with the World Cup trials in Canmore, then a coaching stint with the Ontario Ski Team in Silverstar, then returning once more Canmore for the World Cup races before coming home. Looking back it was a pretty amazing trip, I am really lucky to live the ski life, and feel like I am ready to start racing fast again (but maybe not as fast as the World Cup skiers!).

The World Cup races consisted of three events: Thursday was a 10/15km mass start classic race, Saturday was a skate sprint, and Sunday was a 20/30km pursuit. Each race had its own appeal for me as a spectator. Whether it was cheering on my friends Alana Thomas (ex-XCOttawa), Patrick Stewart-Jones, Chris Hamilton (AWCA), Jon Parry, Knute Johnsgaard, and David Greer (Yukon Elite Squad) as they competed with the best in the world, scoping out how the pack negotiated the distance course’s massive climbs, or intently watching Emil Johansson’s approach to the final stretch of the sprint final, it was all there, and all very impressive!

Canadian skiers had some great results in the Sprints, including Jesse Cockney’s incredible 2nd place qualifier (finished 9th in the heats), Lennie Valjas’s in 7th and Chandra Crawford in a season best 6th. Our best distance result from the men was Alex Harvey’s 11th place finish in the 15km classic mass start, with Ivan Babikov coming 12th in the pursuit (and leading some of the skate leg). Canada’s World Cup team in focusing on the Tour de Ski and World Championships this year so they are still training really hard for those events which probably diminished their performance in Canmore. I heard that one National Team member did a three-hour ski and a gym workout on the Monday previous to the World Cup events so clearly their focus is for later in the season.

In spite of the World Cup team's somewhat diminished presence there were some really great performances, especially from Canada’s domestic skiers, which was great to see. Graham Nishikawa’s 15th place in the 30km pursuit (hanging in there with the lead pack the whole way), Jesse’s excellent sprinting, Emile Nishikawa’s 34th, and Frederique Vezina’s 43rd place in the pursuit, all spoke to the deepening talent among our domestic National, and development center, team skiers.

Also, amazing effort by everyone who raced for Canada at the World Cups in Canmore. It was an incredible competitive stage to jump on to and I think you made everyone who watched the races very proud! Here are some of the better photos I got from the Competition. Thanks for reading!

Alana Thomas charging the wall for the final time on her last lap. She moved up several spots in the final kilometers of this race.

The men starting the 15km classic mass start.

Jesse leading the pack with fellow Canadian Lennie Valjas following in the semi final

And did I mention I got to watch the races with a bunch of buddies (including Lee and Colin pictured above)! Alana got this photo after her race of the three of us looking stoked... because we were.

Interesting Reading. . .
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