-Scott, Renner headline talented Canadian nordic squad focused on podium results-
Canmore, Alta.-Fresh off the heady success achieved at two World Cup events on their home snow last month, Canada’s elite cross-country ski athletes are sprinting into the 2006 Olympic Winter Games replete with veteran leadership and podium potential.
Cross Country Canada unveiled a stellar lineup on Thursday of five women and seven men who have been nominated to strap on the skis and don the maple leaf next month in Torino, Italy. All 12 of these athletes met the Olympic qualification under the Association’s criteria, and in the process, form a squad deep in talent and flush with recent triumphs.
“This is a unique group of athletes that have been making significant progress, and have demonstrated the ability to put Canada back on the Olympic podium in cross-country skiing,” said Dave Wood, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “In Beckie Scott and Sara Renner, our young team has two of the top skiers in the world that will provide leadership and set an example in front of them.”
Fresh off dominating World Cup performances in Canada, Scott and Renner will lead the charge for the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. Scott, a native of Vermilion, Alta. and a 2002 Olympic gold medallist, collected a jaw-dropping total of five medals during last month’s World Cup events in Vernon, B.C. and Canmore, Alta. Renner added to the national medal haul on the cross-country ski tracks by claiming bronze in the women’s sprint event in Vernon, as well as the silver medal she won in her hometown after teaming up with Scott in the classic team relay sprint race.
The dynamic duo will be joined on the powerful women’s team by two-time Olympian Milaine Theriault, of St. Quentin, N.B. Theriault, a mother of a two-year-old son who has spent the majority of her last two competitive seasons at home on the development series, rebounded strongly from a career-threatening back injury she suffered last year to post consistent top-30 results in her return to the World Cup circuit in 2005.
Two other Canadian women, Amanda Ammar of Onoway, Alta. and Chandra Crawford of Canmore, Alta., will make their Olympic debut in Torino next month. At just 19 years old, Ammar has been making strides with the best women in the country, while the 22-year-old Crawford recorded ninth and 10th-place finishes in the team and individual sprint events, respectively, during December’s World Cup races in Western Canada.
“This is truly one of the most talented Olympic cross-country ski teams I have been a part of, and a testament to the continued strength and growth of our national program,” said Scott, who is set to compete in her third Olympic Winter Games. “We were so happy to be able to rise to the occasion at home during the World Cup races in December, and it gives us a great boost of confidence heading into Torino.”
Canada will also field a national men’s team loaded with depth and potential after making its first international mark against the world’s top skiers at the 2005 World Championships. George Grey, of Rossland, B.C., and Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., will lead the young Canucks. The 26-year-old Grey, and Kershaw, 22, made history by finishing sixth in the team sprint at last year’s World Championships. Grey also added a remarkable result in the men’s 15 kilometre individual start race in Canmore, Alta., where he finished 16th, the best result for a Canadian-born male in more than a decade.
Grey and Kershaw will be joined in Torino by fellow World Cup veterans, Chris Jeffries, 27, of Chelsea, Que.; Dan Roycroft, 27, of Port Sydney, Ont.; and Drew Goldsack, 24, of Red Deer, Alta. Phil Widmer of Banff, Alta., 22, who qualified fourth in the men’s sprint race – the first World Cup start of his career; and Sean Crooks of Thunder Bay, Ont., will complete the 12-member Olympic team.
The Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team travels to Europe on January 9 for three World Cup stops before heading to Italy for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee will officially name the entire Canadian Olympic Team on January 26, 2006.
Source: Cross Country Canada