Duntroon, Ontario – The Canadian National Championships are underway. Both the Team Sprint and the 5/10km freestyle have been completed.
5/10km Freestyle – Monday, March 9th
Robin McKeever took another stride closer to putting his name in the cross-country skiing history books as having won the most Canadian Championship medals ever after claiming the gold on Monday at the Haywood Ski Nationals in Duntroon, Ontario.
The 35-year-old McKeever, who has guided his younger brother Brian to seven Paralympic medals in Para-Nordic cross-country skiing, won his 10th Canadian Championship title in the 16 years he’s been competing at the event after crossing the finish line first in the men’s 10-kilometre skate-ski event.
“Absolutely it was a great day,” beamed the Canmore, Alta. resident. “I certainly didn’t expect to win gold, but getting on the podium here is very important to me because I think I’m third overall in medals won at this event.”
Indeed he is. McKeever’s 32 medals over his illustrious career actually put him in a tie for third spot with Canada’s leading wax technician, Yves Bilodeau, on the total medal count list – both are three shy of the legendary Pierre Harvey and Donald Farley, who share the top with 35.
McKeever arrived in southern Ontario with his brother late Sunday night following a successful stop at the 2010 Paralympic venue near Whistler, B.C. where they racked up two gold medals at the IPC World Cup.
The McKeever brothers stuck close to each other again on Monday with Brian finishing in his brother’s golden tracks like they have done countless times around the world. Brian locked up the silver medal.
“We really did no prep work to the skis and used exactly what we had on them Saturday,” said Robin McKeever, who added conditions were tough with a dusting of snow on top of choppy ice. “We were fighting for our balance the whole time, but I think it was an advantage we came in last night because I didn’t know any different.”
Stefan Kuhn, of Canmore, Alta., finished in the third spot.
Noah Hoffman (SVSEF) was the top American, placing 6th, +36.6. Matt Liebsch (CXC) was 9th.
In the women’s race it was Brooke Gosling, of Orangeville, Ont., who took home the gold medal. Edmonton’s Madeleine Williams and Rhonda Jewett, of Canmore, Alta., were the next best Canadians in fourth and fifth spot.
Laura Valaas (APUNSC/USST) claimed the final podium spot, 14.1 seconds behind Gosling. Kristina Trygstad-Saari (Saab Salmon Factory Team) was 6th.
Team Sprints – Sunday, March 8th
Gord Jewett and Brent McMurtry teamed up to take the first gold medal of the week for Canada at the Haywood Ski Nationals on Sunday in Collingwood, Ont.
Jewett, of Canmore, Alta., and Calgary’s McMurtry teed up one of the most exciting races of the day while holding off a northern duo of Graham Nishikawa and David Greer from Whitehorse, Yukon, who were edged out at the line after charging from the back of the pack in the men’s final of the team sprints. Skeets Morel and Cam Egan, of Sovereign Lake Nordic Ski Club grabbed the bronze medal.
The top US team of Peter Kling and Bart Dengel, representing APUNSC, finished 6th.
In the women’s open event, it was the team of Katie Ronsse and Laura Valaas of Alaska Pacific who spoiled the Canadian party by holding a golden celebration of their own. The American duo were joined on the podium by Rhonda Jewett and Eva Szabo, of Foothills Nordic in second, while Alexia Pichard-Jolicoeur and Christine Bisson, of Club Nordique MSA locked up the bronze medal.
Source: Cross-Country Canada