-Norwegians, Russians dominate podium-
Rovaniemi, FIN-Canada’s Perianne Jones ignited her junior cross-country skiing world championships campaign with a top-30 finish in the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit in Rovaniemi, Finland on Monday.
Jones, of Almonte, Ont., who is Canada’s reigning junior women’s cross-country ski champion, posted a time of 31 minutes 28.3 seconds, just over two minutes off the leading pace.
“This is a great way to start the junior world championships,” said the 20-year-old. “I started out pretty strong and skied quite well during the classic portion of the race. The second half was a little more difficult, especially since the course is quite technically challenging, but I worked my way through it and wound up in the front of the pack.”
The junior women’s pursuit race combines five kilomtres of classic skiing with an additional five kilometers of skate skiing. Athletes hit a transition area to change equipment at the midpoint of the race while the clock is still running, similar to triathlon.
Marte Elden of Norway captured the top spot on the women’s podium with a time of 29:24.9. Russia’s Olga Tiagai slipped into second a mere +4.5 seconds behind Elden for the silver medal at 29:29.4, while Norway’s Betty-Ann Nilsen rounded out third for the bronze medal with a time of 29:43.9. There were 67 of the world’s best junior athletes competing in Monday’s race.
Amanda Ammar, Onoway, Alta., was the only other competitor to ski with the maple leaf in the women's race. The 19-year-old capped off the first race of the week in 52nd place with a time of 33:05.7
Chris Butler of Thunder Bay, Ont. kicked-off his first race on European soil, finishing the men’s 20-kilometre pursuit in 33rd place. Butler powered his way from 50th spot at the mid-way point of the race to finish in the top half of the pack, and as the fastest Canadian, with a time of 55:22.3.
“When I found out I was the top Canadian I was just so elated. This totally made my season,” said Butler, who is competing at his first junior world championships. “I had a slow start and I was about 50th coming out of the classic race, however I managed to pick things up during the skate and moved up quite a few spots.”
Petter Northug of Norway was the first man to cross the finish line on Monday, taking home the gold medal with a time of 52:04.7. Toni Naervaeinen of Finland was second at 52:06.3, while Russia’s Mickail Devjatiarov grabbed the bronze medal with a time of 52:10.5. There were over 77 of cross-country skiing’s elite competing in the men’s pusuit.
Similar to the women, the men’s pursuit combines 10 kilometres of classic and skate skiing. Three other Canadian men competed in Monday’s race. Brent McMurtry of Calgary was the next best Canuck, ending the day in 46th place with a time of 56:03.9, while Alex Harvey of St. Fereol des Neiges, Que. slipped into 47th at 56:04.3. Justin Kangarloo of Calgary did not start.
The 2005 FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships will continue throughout the week in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada. Its 45,000 members are athletes, coaches and officials, including members of the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team and Canadian Disabled Cross-Country Ski Team. Cross-country skiing is Canada's optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually.
Top-Five Junior Women’s Results (10 kilometre pursuit):
1. Marte Elden, NOR, 29:24.9; 2. Olga Tiagai, RUS, 29:29.4; 3. Betty-Ann Nilsen, NOR, 29:43.9; 4. Evgenija Bazarnova, RUS, 29:46.6; 5. Marit Liland Fredriksen, NOR, 29:46.8.
Canadian Results (10 kilometre pursuit):
27. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont., 31:28.3; 52. Amanda Ammar, Canmore, Alta., 33:05.7.
Top-Five Junior Men’s Results (20 kilometre pursuit):
1. Petter Northug, NOR, 52:04.7; 2. Toni Naervaeinen, FIN, 52:06.3; 3. Mickail Devjatiarov, RUS, 52:10.5; 4. Ales Razym, CZE, 52:13.7; 5. Martin Jaks, CZE, 52:25.8.
Canadian Results (20 kilometre pursuit):
33. Chris Butler, Thunder Bay, Ont., 55:22.3; 46. Brent McMurtry, Calgary, 56.03.9; 47. Alex Harvey, St. Fereol des Neiges, Que., 56:04.3; Justin Kangarloo, Calgary, DNS.