Canadian World Cup: Continuous Pursuit. Excitement? Yes, please!

FasterSkierDecember 10, 2005

Karl Saidla races for XC Ottawa –

So I’m back at my desk after a thrilling day of race watching at Sovereign Lake. As you know by now, the men’s race was dominated by the Germans, who swept positions 1 through 5. As you also know, the race was won by Angerer, who now takes over the World Cup overall lead from Hetland. The lead pack established itself within the first 7 or 8kms and stayed together basically until the finish. The Germans and Norwegians grouped themselves together for much of the race which was an intimidating sight if nothing else. On the last of the skating laps the attacks came one after the other. Notably, a strong move by Vittoz was quickly covered by an even stronger one by the “fab five” Germans. After that it was essentially a German parade into the finish. It is at least one person’s suspicion that the other Germans did not make a serious attempt to challenge Angerer. It would not surprise many if we were to find out that the Germans had it planned that way from the beginning. Either way it was quite a display of both strength and tactics. For a North American it was also fun to see Kris Freeman and Babikov in the mix, not to mention some strong skiing early in the classic leg by Justin Freeman. I have been told by the manager, Phil Villeneuve, that Babikov was involved in a crash on the last loop and might have finished higher had it not been for that little problem.

The women’s race started fast and stayed that way. An unexpected leader after the classic race was Jatskaja of Kazakhstan, who came into the exchange zone with a very slight lead over the lead pack including all of the favourites, including Bjoergen and Canadian hero Beckie Scott. The pack was thinned out gradually in the skating portion with Scott doing much of the work in front of Bjoergen and Pedersen of Norway. Majdic, who had been strong throughout the race fell on the last downhill which effectively ended her bid for a top spot. The battle came right down to the wire with Beckie Scott pulling alongside Bjoergen but being unable to overtake her. Judging from the time that Bjorgen spent lying in the snow after it was over, this was not a race where she just cruised to victory. It was a great day for the Canadian women, who placed three women in the top 30 with Scott in 2nd, Renner in 12th and Theriault grabbing the last World Cup point in 30th spot. The top 3 Americans were Abigail Larson (35) Rebecca Dussault (39) and Allison Crocker (41).

An interesting aspect of these World Cups is that the extra spots allotted to Canada and the US provide a unique opportunity for some younger skiers to gain valuable experience. I managed to catch up with a couple of the younger Canadians who turned in some great performances:

Graham Nishikawa (21), 46th place,: It was the most fun race I have ever done. The crowd was terrific, which was very inspiring. I am really glad to have had the opportunity to experience this.

Brent McMurtry (Junior!), 57th place: It was so much fun to get my first World Cup start. Obviously it will take a few more years to get into the top 10, but it was just great to be able to get the experience and to have an idea of what I need to do in the future.

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