The two young Canadian sprinting specialists, who have already cut some beginning tracks on the World Cup circuit, captured the Quebec skate-sprint titles of the Teck Cominco Sprints, which are held in conjunction with the Haywood NorAm series — the premier development cross-country skiing race circuit in North America.
The 24-year-old Widmer, of Banff, Alta., who made his Olympic debut in 2006 and also qualified fourth in the sprint event at his first-ever World Cup race in Vernon, B.C. two years ago, overcame Calgary’s Brent McMurtry in a sea-saw affair that went down to the wire. Fast out of the gate, Widmer took an early lead on the final pack, but was passed my McMurtry on the first hill. Widmer maintained pace with the leader and overcame him in the final dash to the line.
â€œIt is important to win these races to keep your confidence going and to staying race sharp,â€ said Widmer. â€œEveryone can’t be racing on the World Cup, and the rest of the world isn’t slowing down, so these races in Canada are good for your head space, ensures you stay competitive, and just continue to stay race ready. Hopefully I can keep it going.â€
The top-30 athletes qualify for the heats where six athletes race head-to-head at one time, with the top-two in each heat advancing until the final heat is determined.
McMurtry settled for the silver medal, while hometown favourite, Alex Harvey, of St-Ferreol les Neiges, Que., rounded out the podium in third. Harvey won gold in last week’s men’s sprint race in Canmore.
Simeon Hamilton of Middlebury College was the top American male in 21st.
Meanwhile, Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., powered her way to the top of the podium in the women’s sprint race. The 22-year-old, who has also dabbled on the World Cup circuit over the last two years including the season-opener this season in Germany, had little trouble in capturing her first NorAm title of the season.
â€œThis was much better today and I was really working on power and speed,â€ said Jones, who admits being anxious to get back skiing on the World Cup after having a taste of it. â€œI get fired up for these NorAm races. Each time I race in them, I really pretend I’m competing on the World Cup so that I’m ready. I’m really excited to race at the World Cup in Canmore.â€
Sarah Daitch, of Fort Smith, N.W.T., who won the women’s sprint race last week, finished second, while Edmonton’s Madeleine Williams grabbed the bronze medal.
Katrina Howe of the University of Vermont was the top American woman in 16th.
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1.Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont.; 2. Sarah Daitch, Fort Smith, N.W.T.; 3. Madeleine Williams, Edmonton; 4. Rhonda Jewett, Calgary; 5. Dasha Gaiazova, Montreal.
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Phil Widmer, Banff, Alta.; 2. Brent McMurtry, Calgary; 3. Alex Harvey, St-Ferreol les Neiges, Que.; 4. Mike Argue, Yellowknife, N.W.T.; 5. Graham Nishikawa, Whitehorse, Yukon.
Full results at www.zone4.ca
Source: Cross-County Canada