A year after an energy-draining Olympics, Justin Wadsworth said the energy within Cross Country Canada is palpable. He, for one, is ready to get back to co-coaching the World Cup Team, trading weekends on the road with Louis Bouchard and working with up-and-coming domestic coaches in Europe.
Despite having eight different women score World Cup points this season and a record six end up in the Red Group (top 30) after period IV, the U.S. women slipped from fourth to sixth in the Nations Cup standings. Alex Harvey, Andy Newell, and Simi Hamilton were the only North American men to attain Red Group status at the end of the season.
Alex Harvey stayed at the front of the pack for most of Sunday’s 50 k classic mass start, the final race of 2015 World Championships in Falun, but he couldn’t quite get into the position he needed before a four-man finishing sprint — which he was just behind. Also for Canada, Graeme Killick notched a career-best 19th, and Ivan Babikov placed 30th after leading as well.
Ivan Babikov couldn’t believe what he was hearing early in the 2015 World Championships 15 k freestyle. Two years after placing fourth in that race, he was in danger of finishing near last if he didn’t speed up. Babikov turned it on for his second lap, which ended up being 24 seconds after than his first, to place 20th. Also for Canada, Graeme Killick placed 32nd and Jess Cockney was 57th in his first distance race in almost three months.
With the pressure off, the Canadian women posted some career-best performances on Tuesday in the 10-kilometer freestyle individual start at 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Emily Nishikawa took 30th, and Perianne Jones placed 32nd in what she said would probably be her final international race.
Alex Harvey approached Saturday’s 30 k skiathlon with a winning mindset and came out with bronze, his second medal in as many races so far at 2015 World Championships. “A medal today is as good as gold,” Canadian National Team Coach Justin Wadsworth says, “We couldn’t want anything more.” Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin outlasted Switzerland’s Dario Cologna for his first world title.
Four North American women advanced to the heats on the first day of medal competition at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, with American Sophie Caldwell leading the crew in 21st in Thursday’s classic-sprint qualifier. Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won the qualifier by 0.24 seconds, and Kikkan Randall missed advancing by 3.22 seconds in 36th.
We can’t imagine anything much more exciting than making World Championships for the first time, so we contacted the North Americans living that exact dream this year. Here’s our first of the series from Canadian national-team member Jess Cockney in his first World Champs after competing at the Sochi Olympics last year.