The sprint event of the Canadian Nationals had been the â€œtalk of the townâ€ for quite a while thanks to its downtown location and carefully engineered course. Careful engineering in this day and age can look after everything but the weather and the weather proved to be an important aspect of the day. While the course was reasonably firm in the morning, by the time the finals went at 4pm the slush was deep. In some places, it was very deep. So much so that some racers were opting to double pole the softest sections because they believed pushing the skis into the slush was not giving them any extra speed. It was fun to see so many spectators throughout the day including large groups of school children who somehow managed to get excused from regular class to study skiing. The layout of the course proved to be excellent, with a good mix of all types of terrain as well as some challenging technical sections.
As with Wednesday’s skate races, the sprints were more spread out than would normally be the case thanks to the demanding conditions. Despite various small misshaps and the occasional crash caused by tips getting caught in the deep snow the people that most would have probably predicted to win did so.
The men’s final included Phil Widmer, Drew Goldsack and Dan Roycroft of the National Team, as well as Adam Kates of Exel Racing team. Widmer opened a suprising gap virtually from the start and was never seriously challenged. He was followed by Goldsack, Kates and Roycroft with each of them essentially on their own coming into the finish. One person that could have been expected to be in the final was Sean Crooks of Thunder Bay (one of those people who is almost always in the final), but he only managed third in his semifinal and was thus eliminated.
The women’s final was won convincingly by Daria Gaiazova (National Team) over Rhonda Sandau (Exel Racing Team), Magi Scallion (Banff Ski Runners) and Christine Bisson (Centre National d’Entrainement Pierre Harvey), who also, unfortunately, crashed in the final.
Alex Harvey continued his domination of the junior men’s field with Brent McMurtry placing second followed by Nicolas Poirier and Christian Ruel.
In junior women Amanda Ammar won relatively easily after posting the fastest qualifying time by about 10 seconds over all the junior women. Third went to Brittany Webster ahead of Cathy Jaques and Kate Brennan.
For complete results including junior and juvenile categories please visit www.zone4.ca.
The remaining long distance mass start classic events take place on Sunday including the men’s 50km and women’s 30km. As of right now the forecast calls for warm and rainy conditions so a challenge appears to be in store for all!
Photo: Megan McTavish