A talented group of Olympic and World Cup medallists, including the return of veteran Sara Renner, will headline the 2007-08 World Cup Cross-Country Ski Team, Cross Country Canada announced on Thursday.
The young and dynamic squad has welcomed the return of Olympic silver medallist, Sara Renner, who took last season off to have her baby daughter Aria. Renner, of Canmore, Alta., will be counted on to carry the torch for a group of athletes that have been making significant progress, and continue to push harder each day in an effort to win more international medals.
â€œWe are delighted to have Sara continue to be there with us to deliver on her high standards and commitment to excellence over the next three years,â€ said Tom Holland, director of high-performance, Cross Country Canada. â€œSara is a world-class person both on and off the snow. Our team will continue to benefit from her leadership, and from having a proven international performer at their side as we work together to own the podium in 2010.â€
While Renner has been training regularly with her World Cup comrades, her next step towards getting back into elite racing form will be competing on the Haywood NorAm series in Canada before hitting the start line for her first World Cup race in Canmore, Alta., January 22-26, 2008.
â€œI still have the fire in my belly to compete, to improving in all disciplines of our sport, and I look forward to the opportunity to lead our team along the way,â€ said Renner, who is enjoying the challenge of balancing motherhood with a career in high-performance sport. â€œThe young athletes in our program proved over the last couple of years they are ready to compete with the world’s best, and it is going to be a fun ride. I’m looking forward to getting back on the start line.â€
Joining Renner on the women’s team is fellow Canmore resident, Chandra Crawford, who is an Olympic and World Cup medallist. The 23-year-old Crawford, who shocked the world to win gold at the Torino Games, added to her World Cup medal total last season when she won a bronze medal at the World Cup Tour-de-Ski on New Year’s Eve in Germany. Rounding out the Canadian women’s team is: Amanda Ammar, of Onoway, Alta.; Dasha Gaiazova, of Montreal; Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont.; and Brittany Webster, of Caledon, Ont.
Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., will be counted on to lead the Canadian trail for the men’s team. The 24-year-old Kershaw, who became the fist Canadian male in 15 years to medal in a World Cup event when he accomplished the task following the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, is developing into one of the top all-round skiers in the world. Kershaw built on his success last season, and captured a silver medal in the opening event of the World Cup Tour-de-Ski last season.
Building off Kershaw’s leadership, Canada will field a national men’s team loaded with depth and potential who are ready to make an international mark against the world’s top skiers. Other members of the team include: David Nighbor, of North Bay, Ont.; Drew Goldsack, of Red Deer, Alta.; George Grey, of Rossland, B.C.; Phil Widmer, of Banff, Alta.; Sean Crooks, of Thunder Bay, Ont.; and Stefan Kuhn, of Canmore, Alta.
â€œThis is a unique group of athletes that has been making significant progress, and has demonstrated the ability to maintain Canada’s position on the podium in international cross-country skiing,â€ said Dave Wood, who returns as head coach of the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. â€œOur young team has had a taste of success over the last few years, and now knows what it takes to win. We are going to make positive strides together, with the goal of winning more medals for Canada.â€
A group of six athletes including, Chandra Crawford, Perianne Jones, David Nighbor, Phil Widmer, Sean Crooks and Stefan Kuhn, have left for Europe to compete in the season-opening World Cup event this weekend, October 27-28, 2007, in Dűsseldorf, Germany.
Source: Cross-Country Canada