Val di Fiemme, ITA-Canada’s women’s cross-country skiers, who took the nation by storm on their home snow last month, teamed up to post an unofficial fourth-place result in a 4×5 kilometre World Cup team relay on Sunday in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
With their fourth teammate, Chandra Crawford, forced to stay in the hotel room with a sore throat and cold, Canada’s Beckie Scott, of Vermilion, Alta., Sara Renner, of Canmore, Alta., and Amanda Ammar, of Onoway, Alta., recruited a Swedish skier to form a relay team to get another high-level race under their belts in preparation for the Olympic Winter Games, which are just three weeks away. The modified Canadian team finished fourth after posting a combined time of 56 minutes 42.3 seconds.
“It was a really strong race for us today and a good test because we haven’t skied a relay in a long time,” said Sara Renner. “We were first after Beckie and I completed our laps, and Amanda skied terrific. It bodes well for the Olympic relay for sure.”
Renner was the lone Canadian woman to ski in Saturday’s 15 kilometre mass start skate event as the remainder of the Canadian squad rested from the long haul to Europe. Renner has been training in Europe since New Year's Eve with husband, and alpine skier, Thomas Grandi.
“The girls raced really way today and were strong all the way through,” said Dave Wood, head coach of the Canucks. “The team is still getting over some jet lag, but it was important for them to get back to the start line and test themselves against a strong field.”
While the Canadians summarized the day as a successful training run, it was the team from Finland who heard their nation’s anthem from the top step of the podium. The Finns captured the gold medal with a time of 55:22.6. Russia was second at 55:41.3, while Norway locked up the bronze medal position with a time of 56:39.5.
Meanwhile, the Canadian men did not get off to a strong start in their first World Cup of the new year in Europe. The team of Drew Goldsack, of Red Deer, Alta., Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., George Grey, of Rossland, B.C., and Chris Jeffries, of Chelsea, Que., struggled from start-to-finish in the men’s 4×10 kilometre relay event, trailing the field to finish 20th (1:45:29.9).
The Italian quartet had anything but trouble in front of their hometown crowd, narrowly winning the gold medal over a strong German team. The Italians crossed the line at 1:39:16.5, while the Germans settled for the silver medal after stopping the clock at 1:39:16.7. The team from Norway solidified the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:39:17.0.
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 two million Canadians participating annually.
Top-5 Women’s Results: Complete Results: www.fis-ski.com
1.Finland, 55:22.6; 2. Russia, 55:41.3; 3. Norway, 56:39.5; 4. Canada, 56:42.3; 5. Germany 57:02.7.
Top-5 Men’s Results:
1.Italy, 1:39:16.5; 2. Germany, 1:39:16.7; 3. Norway, 1:39:17.0; 4. Czech Republic, 1:39:19.1; 5. Russia, 1:40:03.1; 20. Canada 1:45:29.9.