Gatineau, February 21, 2010 – Although more than 20 countries were represented at this year’s Gatineau Loppet, the podium’s top rung belonged to Canadians after nearly every run. On this second and last day of competition, several hundred cross-country skiers turned out to take part in the different free style races, that is to say the 10 km, 27 km and 49 km Bell. Today’s snow conditions were fast, and the 32nd edition ended with some tantalizing racing!
Once again this year, the decision to modify the route because of the weather proved to be the right one. The organizers received some very positive feedback from the participants.
“I am most grateful to the volunteers and partners who had to work extra hard to bring the trails to our high standards!” indicated President Alain d’Entremont.
49 km Bell free style
Three of the favourite skiers managed to pull ahead of the rest to earn their places on the podium. There was a tight race for second place between Alberta’s Chris Butler and Chelsea’s Karl Saidla. In the end, Chris Butler took the lead in the last few centimetres, finishing with a time of 2:16:25.2. Karl Saidla crossed the line only 3 tenths of a second later, with 2:16:25.5. Alberta’s Robin McKeever had taken the lead on them only 10 seconds before, ending with a time of 2:16:02.4, and in one fell swoop earning the gold and the $1,500 purse. Remember that McKeever holds nine national cross-country ski champion titles, and will soon be taking part in the paralympic games as a sighted guide for his brother Brian.
Among the women, it was Gatineau’s Megan McTavish who took the gold with a time of 2:41:55.7. She had finished second last year in this same competition. Her closest rival, Kelly Skillicorn from the United States, was about 10 minutes behind her, ending with 2:51:28.0. Renée Hamel, from St-Pierre on Île d’Orléans, got the bronze, finishing the race in 2:51:28.0.
27 km free style
Some people really have energy to spare! This would be the case with the first two women to finish the race. Ottawa’s Sheila Kealy, who had finished first the day before in the 49 km classic style, turned in a repeat performance, this time finishing the 27 km in 1:28:41.5. Rimouski’s Louise Martineau, who had finished third the day before in the 49 km, wrapped up the race in 1:34:26.7 to grab the silver. The bronze went to another Ottawan, Colleen Mortimer, for her time of 1:34:36.0 in the 27 km.
On the men’s side, Riell Allain from Chelsea, the winner of the 10 km in 2009, took the gold with a time of 1:21:14.6. He was followed by Sacha Desfossés from Prévost at 1:21:52.2, who had been the second-place finisher in 2008 as well. Another Chelsea resident, Sebastien Townsend, came in third, with a time of 1:24:00.4.
10 km free style
Andrew Morehouse, from Canton, U.S.A., won with a time of 28:17.2, followed by Jiri Suchy, from Prague, Czech Republic, with a time of 28:41.4 minutes. Ottawa’s Ben Wilkinson-Zan finished the race in 28:56.1, finding himself in third place, after winning first place the day before in the 5 km Louis Garneau.
Among the women, Émilie Chartrand of Saint-Ferréol-Les-Neiges came in first with a time of 33:23.6, beating Gatineau’s Sophie Carrier-Laforte, who wrapped up her race in 33:38.3. She was the same one we saw on the third step of podium yesterday after the 5 km Louis Garneau classic style. Frédérique Vanier, from Gatineau, completed the race in 34:19.4, finding herself in third place.
This weekend’s big winners
49 km Bell Free Style
1st Robin McKeever, Canmore, 2:16:02.4 1st Megan McTavish, Gatineau, 2:41:55.7
2nd Chris Butler, Canmore, 2:16:25.2 2nd Kelly Skilicorn, Winona, 2:51:28.0
3rd Karl Saidla, Chelsea, 2:16:25.5 3rd Renée Hamel, ST-PIERRE-ILE-DORLEANS, 2:58:04.9
49 km Classic Style
1st Phil Shaw, Rosemère, 2:50:53.8 1st Sheila Kealey, Ottawa, 3:03:55.7
2nd Stefan Desfosses, Ste-Adèle, 2:51:37.1 2nd Ingrid-Anne Ingvoldstad, Norway, 3:14:53.7
3rd Frédéric Grandjean, Switzerland, 2:53:25.2 3rd Louise Martineau, Rimouski, 3:17:32.9
27 km Free Style
1st Riell Allain, Chelsea, 1:21:14.6 1st Sheila Kealey, Ottawa, 1:28:41.5
2nd Sacha Desfosses, Prévost, 1:21:52.2 2nd Louise Martineau, Rimouski, 1:34:26.7
3rd Sebastien Townsend, Chelsea, 1:24:00.4 3rd Colleen Mortimer, Ottawa, 1:34:36.0
27 km Classic Style
1st Samuel Dostie-Menard, Gatineau, 1:36:16.7 1st Geneviève Masson, Longueuil, 1:45:54.1
2nd Chris Mcmahon, Chelsea, 1:37:55.2 2nd Natalya Kuziak, Chelsea, 1:50:51.9
3rd Frédéric Gobeil, Piédmont, 1:38:28.4 3rd Andrea Vogl, U.S.A., 1:51:10.2