Chandra Crawford is back! The Olympic Gold Medalist captured her first ever World Cup win on her home course in Canmore. The surprise winner of the Freestyle Sprint at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Crawford struggled through a difficult season last year, unable to crack the top-20 on the World Cup circuit.
That is all a distant memory now as Crawford followed up a strong 12th in the classic sprint with the victory in the final event of the Canmore World Cup week.
Crawford appeared to be on a mission from the get-go, qualifying in the 2nd position. The course suited the style of the local hero. â€œFlat and fast is good for me,â€ she told reporters after the race.
The speed of the course was evident throughout the day. It was nearly impossible to break up the heats of 6 early in the 1.2km loop. Several tried, charging up the first climb and opening a gap, but the pack always closed back on the downhills. Nearly every heat was decided on the long gradual uphill to the finish, and most were closely contested — often between four or 5 athletes.
Crawford did not take the chance of getting boxed in, or tangled up in the crowd, charging to front of every heat and leading or sitting in second until the final sprint. The hometown crowd loved every minute of it, going wild as the tall Canadian crossed the line first in the A-final, with her usual beaming smile plastered across her face.
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