Continental CupRacingCanadian Skiers Ski For World Championship Team at Weekend NorAms

FasterSkier FasterSkierJanuary 8, 2009

Dave Nighbor And Madeleine Williams Heat Up Canmore Nordic Center With Golden Performances At Haywood NorAm Races

CANMORE, Alta.—Dave Nighbor and Madeleine Williams turned up the heat on a chilly afternoon at the Canmore Nordic Center, winning the men’s and women’s individual start races at the Haywood NorAm Race Series on last Sunday.

With a conservative game plan heading to the start line of one of the most difficult courses in the country, the 24-year-old Nighbor posted the fastest opening split time and held down the throttle to the finish line in the men’s 15-kilometre skate race where he stopped the clock at 36 minutes 01.0 seconds.

“It was a pretty good day and I skied very consistent which you have to do out here,” said Nighbor, who is the top-ranked man in the country on the Haywood NorAm Series, North America’s premier development race series. “You have to be cautious out here because the hills are so steep and long.”

With the ultimate goal of qualifying for Canada’s World Championship Team this week, Nighbor has been a mainstay on the podium this year on the Haywood NorAm circuit.

“This is a big week for sure and there is always pressure on everyone for tomorrow’s (World Championship) qualifier race,” said Nighbor. “I was a little nervous today to find out where my shape is. I’m looking forward to tomorrow which is the one that really matters.”

Nighbor was joined on the podium by Graham Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, Yukon, who posted the second fastest time of the day in the men’s race at 36:31.0. Len Valjas, of Thunder Bay, Ont , who skis on Team Hardwood, finished third (36:35.1).

The top-ranked woman on the NorAm circuit also lived up to her billing in the women’s 10-kilometre individual start skate-ski race on Sunday. Edmonton’s Madeleine Williams carried her top form into the most important week on the NorAm calendar, shattering the field with a winning time of 30:52.0.

“It was a good solid effort for sure,” said the 25-year-old Williams, who will be suiting up for Canada at the World Cup at Whistler Olympic Park in mid-January. “It is really big to get this experience on the top course in the country to help prepare for the World Cup.”

Williams admitted the cold weather, which plagued the Canmore Nordic Centre for the second straight day, forced athletes to ski a little more conservatively, but made for good, hard-packed snow.

Williams led an Alberta sweep of the women’s podium. Amanda Ammar, of Onoway, Alta., finished second at 31:21.1, while Rhonda Jewett, of Canmore, Alta., was third (31:37.6).

The Canmore stop of the Haywood NorAm Series, which is also serving as selection trials for Canada’s World Championship teams, continues on Monday with the men’s and women’s pursuit races.

Milaine Theriault And Graham Nishikawa Take Giant Stride Forward In Pursuit Of Canada’s World Championship Cross-Country Ski Team

CANMORE, Alta. — Milaine Theriault and Graham Nishikawa took a significant stride forward in their quest to qualify for Canada’s World Championship Teams after winning the women’s and men’s cross-country skiing pursuit races at the Haywood NorAm Series on Monday in Canmore, Alta.

Theriault, of St. Quentin, N.B., pulled a golden performance out of the hat to win the women’s 15-kilometer pursuit race, which combines 7.5 kilometres of classic skiing followed by another 7.5 kilometers of skate skiing. Athletes enter a transition zone between the two legs with the clock still running. Theriault, who has been sick in bed for the last five days, clocked a winning time of 44 minutes 13.7 seconds.

“It was definitely much better than I expected today,” said Theriault, who finally got on skis for the first time in eight days yesterday. “I wasn’t even going to race, but I did and I pulled it out of I don’t know where. It was very enjoyable out there and maybe rest is a good thing.”

Theriault, who decided to make a comeback to qualify for Canada’s World Cup Team after taking the year off after her third trip to the Olympics in 2006, took a huge step forward to achieving her goal with Monday’s strong performance.

“This was a big race and the only qualifier for distance skiers so it was important for sure,” said Theriault, who has been training independently throughout her comeback this summer. “I had a great summer of training and I’m glad that I will qualify to race at the World Cup in Whistler, and hopefully get my way back to racing on the World Cup circuit regularly again.”

Theriault was pushed to the finish line by another young Canuck making her comeback to elite racing form after missing last season with a leg injury. Brittany Webster, of Caledon, Ont. had powerful legs in the women’s pursuit where she finished second at 44:14.0. Edmonton’s Madeleine Williams was third (45:02.1).

Calgary’s Marlis Kromm won the junior women’s 10-kilometer pursuit race with a time of 34:03.8.

Meanwhile, Canada’s top men continue to exchange positions on the podium at the Canmore stop of the Haywood NorAm Series. Graham Nishikawa moved up from his second-place finish yesterday in the individual start race to finish first in the men’s 30-kilometer pursuit. The Whitehorse, Yukon native won the dash to the finish line with a time of 1:17:19.7.

Frederic Touchette, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., finished second at 1:17:20.7, while Olympian Dan Roycroft, of Port Sydney, Ont., grabbed the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:17:24.9.

Graeme Killick, of Banff, Alta., won the junior men’s 20-kilometer pursuit race with a time of 55:57.8.

Complete Results for both races can be found at http://www.zone4.ca

Source: Cross-Country Canada

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