On Sunday Stanizlav Rezac won his sixth consecutive race at the Keskinada. Last year he won the sprints, the 52km classic race, and the 50km skate race. This year he did it again. (Photo Credit: Daniel Rochon [www.keskinada.com])
Yesterday was the 50km skate race, which has always been the been the toughest and most important race of the weekend. (When Keskinada is a FIS Marathon Cup this is the designated race. When it is not, the prize money is highest in the skate). Sunday morning brought beautiful sunshine with temperatures around -12C. The course was in terrific shape with the only major complaint being some slow and powdery snow on the higher sections of the race trail.
Rezac squeezed out a victory over Ivan Babikov, this time racing the colours of his Canadian factory team, the well known X-C.com. The challenging hills in the early part of the course, including Pink Lake hill and the infamous "Penguin", served to break up the race, with a lead group forming including Rezac, Babikov, and the surprise of the day, Steve Cyr. Cyr is a former member of Canada's national Biathlon team who placed 8th in the 1992 Olympic biathlon sprint event. Cyr valiantly hung on to the pace set by Rezac and Babikov until the closing kilometres. A sprint finish once again put Rezac on the top step of the podium. Both Rezac and Babikov will be heading to the American Birkebeiner this weekend. Expect them to contend for the win.
Fourth place went to Robert Douglas of Honeoye Falls, New York with fifth going to to my darkhorse pick, Will Fitzgerald, who passed a large group of skiers with blazing speed on the last uphill of the course.
In the women's race, the victory went to Muriel Marin of France, by about a minute and a half over hard charging Sheila Kealey of XC Ottawa, among the top three once again. If there were a prize for consistent top performances it would have to go to her, who has been in the top three too many times to count, dating back to the early nineties if I am right. Third went to Brooke Gosling of Canmore and the Foothills ski club, who did remarkably well considering it was her first race of this length.
As a whole the weekend was a big success, with over three thousand competitors all told. Anybody who loves marathon racing or just plain skiing should put this one on their list of "must do" races.
Stanislav Rezac poses for a picture with Stuart McTavish who was about to start his first ever 50km long event."
Full results from SportStats.ca 50km Patin/Skate
Classic Results50km Classique