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Canmore Report 2: Skate sprints and Individual Start Classic
By:  Karl Saidla   (2007/12/10)

Saturday, Skate Sprints

In a nutshell, things went much better for everyone with XC Ottawa this week. While we don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up with, our guess is simply that despite being in good shape, we struggled a bit with the acclimatization to racing at moderate altitude in Silver Star. By the time we raced in Canmore this problem seemed to have mostly sorted itself out.

We have already posted a report about Thursday’s pursuit races. On Saturday, we looked for some success in the skate sprints. Racing temperatures were close to the limit, and the course, as usual, was rock hard, not to mention deadly slow on the uphill sections. The open winners were the very strong Sarah Daitch and Alex Harvey. Local notable Perianne Jones took second among the women. Within XC Ottawa, Megan and Sheila found the most of this aforementioned success, with Megan getting in to the B Final and eventually finishing 10th, and Sheila qualifying in 15th and making it into the quarter finals. Karl managed 30th, squeezing into the rounds (which he is actually pleased with) and Andrew 44th.

Sunday Distance Classical:

Today’s distance races were held in classical technique and the punishment was 5km for women and 10km for the male members of XCOttawa. Both distances were held on the Olympic 5km loop, made famous from the 2005 World Cup events that showcased the brutal climbs that make this race course one of the toughest in the world.

Megan McTavish and Sheila Kealey had excellent races, finishing 6th and 12th respectively, both reported being happy with their performances. The women’s event was won by Madeline Williams with a commanding lead of about 30 seconds over Perianne Jones of Nakkertok.

Karl Saidla and Andrew Wynd saddled up for two laps of the World Cup course and finished 20th and 32nd, with once again positive reports all round. The men’s winner was Russian-cum-Canadian, Ivan Babikov, who again blitzed the field by 35 seconds from Dave Nighbor of the Canadian National Team.

All racers had outstanding skis thanks to coach, John Suuronen and his box full of Vauhti waxes. We were able to ski strongly up all the steep climbs in the track, a must for a worthy result on these courses.

Today in particular was an important day for all these athletes who are desperately trying to ski under certain FIS points to allow qualification for World Cups. While the results are preliminary, it appears the points were not favourable for men or women due to various factors, not helped by the large winning margins in both men and women’s events. Karl Saidla was the only athlete to ski qualifying points today, reflective of such a strong performance in a high quality field.

A special mention should be made that this was Andrew Wynd’s final race in Canada as a member of XCOttawa and despite the points not co-operating for him today, Andrew felt he skied “the best classic race of his career”. This seems a fitting end to the last two years spent in Canada.

Here are a few pictures from Sunday's Classic Race . . .

Megan makes the podium!

Andrew on the first climb out of the stadium

Karl climbs out of the stadium

Karl off to a great start


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