DUNTROON, ONT.â€” Canada’s Sara Renner and George Grey won their second gold medals of the week at the Haywood NorAm Cross-Country Ski Series in Duntroon, Ontario on Sunday — this time in the women’s and men’s 10- and 15-kilometer classic ski events.
Renner, of Canmore, Alta., led the nation’s top women around the challenging 10-kilometer track in Ontario, clocking a winning time of 33 minutes 43.5.
â€œThis was definitely my best race so far. I’m starting to feel the speed coming, feel snappy, and I’m getting used to the speed,â€ said Renner, who got a wake up call in Saturday’s sprint event. â€œI have to fight right now and it will make me a better skier. These races help me do that rather than just training.â€
The victory marks the end to a successful first week in the Olympic silver medalist's journey back to elite form after taking a year off to have a baby daughter. However, while the 31-year-old Renner racked up two gold and one bronze medals in her three races this week, she still has a lot of work to do before she starts challenging for the World Cup podium — a place she visited regularly during the 2006 season.
â€œI still have a long way to go, but the sprint race yesterday
The next major test in Renner’s development will be a date with the world’s best on her home training ground at the Canmore Nordic Center, beginning January 22.
â€œI’m really looking forward to it and to having the world come to our home,â€ said Renner, who competed in just one World Cup race this season in Switzerland prior to the Haywood NorAm races this week in Ontario. â€œI’m excited to race and I have such great memories of the World Cup in Canmore before the Olympics <2005-06 season>, but I do have different expectations now.â€
Renner was joined on the podium by Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., who finished more than a minute off the pace in second (34:45.4), while Amanda Ammar, of Onoway, Alta., settled for third sport at 34:48.4.
It was also a successful beginning to the new year for George Grey, of Rossland, B.C., who also captured two gold medals in his final tune-up race before the Canmore World Cup. The 28-year-old, who admittedly got off to a slow start to the season, is rounding into top form as the Canadian squad prepares to take on the world on home snow. Grey clocked a golden time of 43:22.9 to win the men’s 15-kilometer classic event on Sunday.
â€œI had a lot more snap today and I was able to respond to the people around me which I was happy with,â€ said Grey, who will have a light training week, followed by a heavy week of training before settling down into race mode in Canmore. â€œI feel I’m starting to recover now from the fatigue over Christmas and I’m happy with where I am right now. I was happy, not just with the win today, but with how my body felt.â€
Joining Grey on the podium was Stefan Kuhn, of Canmore, Alta., who solidified second spot with a time of 43:31.6, while Dan Roycroft, of Port Sydney, Ont., was third (43:57.8).
While the majority of the Canadian squad was battling it out in Canada, their 23-year-old teammate, David Nighbor, was completing the ultimate test in the sport — skiing more than 100 kilometers in all disciplines over eight races staged in a 10-day period across Europe. The event concludes with a 425 metre climb to the finish line in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
â€œIt is so tough to wake up each morning knowing you have another World Cup race and not a day off,â€ said Grey, who competed in the event last year. â€œThat last hill is a grueling, grueling climb. Nobody in North America has raced a hill that big and when you finish, it is definitely satisfaction. I commend Dave. It’s not easy being in Europe on your own and he turned in a couple of good results.â€
The North Bay, Ont. native, who bettered his personal best World Cup performance twice throughout the event, finished 43rd on Sunday in the men’s 10-kilometer pursuit in Val di Fiemme, Italy. His Sunday performance moved him into 51st place in the overall Tour de Ski standings. Lukas Bauer, of the Czech Republic, who had control of the event from the outset, was crowned the king of skiing after finishing first in the grueling test of endurance.
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 ParaNordic Cross-Country Ski Team. Cross-country skiing is Canada’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually.
COMPLETE NORAM RESULTS: www.zone4.ca
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. George Grey, Rossland, B.C., 43:22.9; 2. Stefan Kuhn, Canmore, Alta., 43:31.6; 3. Dan Roycroft, Port Sydney, Ont., 43:57.8; 4. Drew Goldsack, Red Deer, Alta., 44:44.8; 5. Brent McMurtry, Calgary, 45;09.4.
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1.Sara Renner, Canmore, Alta., 33:43.5; 2. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont., 3. Amanda Ammar, Onoway, Alta., 34:48.4; 4. Dasha Gaiazova, Montreal, 34:54.6; 5. Chandra Crawford, Canmore, Alta., 34:55.7.
Source: Cross-Country Canada