Rovaniemi, FIN-Perianne Jones posted one of the strongest distance race results in nearly a decade for a Canadian junior cross-country skier at the Nordic Junior World Championships in Rovaniemi, Finland on Friday.
The 19-year-old Jones finished 14th in the women’s five-kilometre free technique event with a time of 15 minutes 26.1 seconds. It marks the best performance by a junior Canuck in a distance race at the world championships since Amanada Fortier was eighth in 1996.
Jones, of Almonte, Ont., who is making her third trip to the international junior spectacle, maintained pace with the pack under cloudy skies and wet snow conditions off the start, but kicked it into high gear and made up eight spots in the final half of the race before crossing the finish line.
“This definitely surpasses any expectations I had heading into the week,” said a jubilant Jones, who also finished 15th in the women’s sprint earlier this week. “I thought I’d do well in the sprints, but I think this proves to myself that I am developing into a strong all-round skier. It was a great race and I’m very happy with my results this week overall.”
Amanda Ammar of Onoway, Alta. was the only other Canadian woman to suit up on Friday and finished a disappointing 44th in the field of 71 junior women with a time of 16:10.2.
The Russians dominated the women’s event. Natalija Iliana made her way to the top step of the podium after crossing the finish line with a time of 14:24.8. Iliana’s teammate, Joulia Kolesnitchenko won the dash for second in a photo finish with a time of 14:39.2. Norway’s Betty-Ann Nilsen settled for the bronze medal (14:39.2).
Top U.S. result came from Morgan Arritola (Fairfield, ID/Sun Valley SEF), who was 36th in the women's race.
The Canadian men struggled in the 10-kilometre free technique event against the world’s best. Alex Harvey of St. Fereol des Neiges, Que., the son of legendary Canadian cross-country skier Pierre Harvey, was the bright spot for the baby Canucks. The 16-year-old rookie turned in a solid performance, finishing tied for 43rd (25:24.1) in a field of 91 athletes. Other Canadian results included: Brent McMurtry of Calgary in 47th (25:37.6); Chris Butler of Thunder Bay, Ont. in 71st (26:51.5); and Justin Kangarloo of Calgary in 82nd (27:41.3).
The top American in the men's race was Bret Bedard in 62nd place.
Norway’s Petter Narthug made his third straight trip this week to the gold medal position on the podium after setting the time to beat at 23:06.1. Japan’s Keishin Yoshida shocked the field with a silver medal performance after stopping the clock at 23:36.1, while Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen was third at 23:41.7.
The final cross country races are scheduled for Saturday with the relays.
Women’s Top-5 (5 Kilometre Free Technique):
1Natalja Iliana, RUS, 14:24.8; 2. Joulia Kolesnitchenko, RUS, 14:39.2; 3. Betty-Ann Nilsen, NOR, 14:39.8; 4. Evgenija Bazarnova, RUS, 14:41.0; 5. Sophie Fargeas, FRA, 14:57.7.
North American Results:
14. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont., 15:26.1;
36. Morgan Arritola, Fairfield, Idaho/Sun Valley SEF, 15:59.7
44. Amanda Ammar, Onoway, Alta., 16:10.2
47. Taz Mannix, Talkeetna, Alaska/APU Nordic Ski Center, 16:14.5
53. Morgan Smyth, Vernon, Vt./Northern Michigan University, 16:24.8
66. Laura Spector, Waitsfield, Vt./Green Mountain Valley School, 16:58.4
Men’s Top-5 (10 Kilometre Free Technique:
1.Petter Narthug, NOR, 23:06.1; 2. Keishin Yoshida, JPN, 23:36.1; 3. Emil Hegle Svendsen, NOR, 23:41.7; 4. Ronny Andre Hafsaas, NOR, 23:55.7; 5. Nikolay Khokhryakov, RUS, 23:58.0.
North American Results:
T43. Alex Harvey, St. Fereol des Neiges, Que.;
47. Brent McMurtry, Calgary, 25:37.6;
62. Bret Bedard, Cheshire, Mass./Stratton Mountain School, 26:19.5
70. Mike Hinckley, Anchorage, Alaska,/Alaska Winter Stars, 26:50.6
71. Chris Butler, Thunder Bay, Ont., 26:51.5;
76. Glenn Randall, Collbran, Colo./Grand Mesa Nordic, 27:00.4
82. Justin Kangarloo, Calgary, 27:41.3.
84. Mike Sinnott, Sun Valley, ID/Sun Valley SEF/Dartmouth College, 27:58.4
Source: Cross Country Canada and USSA
Pictures from www.jwsc2005.net