It was a tough week for the Canadian World Cup Team, but the group is determined to look forward by keeping their long-term plan in mind and refocus on their goals and priorities.
Alex Harvey, the top finisher in Saturday’s sprint, said the events of the week made it seem “ like the sky fell on us. . . .It made it really hard for the athletes to focus on the races. . .”.
The team did not qualify anyone for heats during Saturday’s sprint race. Sara Renner was the top placer for the women’s team, coming in 4.5 seconds out of qualifying in 42nd place. Behind her were Chandra Crawford in 49th and Perianne Jones in 51st. In the men’s race Alex Harvey was the top finisher at 55th, with Devon Kershaw in 60th.
Commented Harvey, “Personally, I did not expect anything special from this weekend result wise. I know I need a lot of races under my belt before I get going for real. I still thought that I could be in the top 30 though…”
Sunday’s race saw only a slight upswing in results, Ivan Babikov and Sara Renner the top finishers in 38th and 39th respectively. However, Chandra Crawford and George Grey, both coming back from injuries, had some positive finishes.
Both athletes are trying to get back into the flow of racing, and coach Wood told Cross Country Canada on Sunday, “We need to get Chandra some harder aerobic conditioning and I think she was a positive for us today.”
Grey, who has been recovering from a torn ligament in his foot, said of Sunday’s distance race, “personally I was happy with my race. I was not expecting a good result and had other goals in mind. My foot did not re injure, I felt strong on the hills, and I finished the last 10km very well considering my past six weeks. Since I got back skiing just over two weeks ago I have steadily improved my total speed and hope that in two weeks I will be firing with all cylinders during the Davos World Cup.”
A major blow to the team occurred on Thanksgiving day when the team’s head coach, Inge Braten, slipped on some ice and broke his hip, putting him off the circuit for an undetermined amount of time. Meanwhile, Sara Renner, George Grey, and head coach, Dave Wood, were en route to the races. But because of numerous flight delays, which Gray describes as a “nightmare travel that took us over 50hours” the three arrived in Kuusamo just in time for the races. And further staffing issues on the team did not help to elevate the mood.
As Coach Wood commented to the Canadian Press after the weekend,” “It was a brutal trip over here for us and I think we are just a little flat right now. We need to have a good training period this week and regroup.”
Grey put the thought out that perhaps if the amount of summer training was the reason some of the team was feeling slow, perhaps this was a “good omen” for the Olympic games.
Renner pointed out, “If there weren’t obstacles, it would be boring”. She added the reminder that competition is so fierce on the World Cup that if an athlete or team is feeling a little off, it shows in a big way. Renner, however, is confident in the team’s ability to bounce back. “Luckily things turn around and we are a team with a sense of humor and confidence… important attributes for success. Our team spirit will keep us floating!”