Perianne Jones is now two for two.
The Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) member and Vancouver Olympian put on a powerhouse display of classic skiing Saturday morning, winning the 2.7 k classic event on the second day of racing at Western Canadian Championships in Kelowna, B.C.
Jones won the second race in the mini-tour by a little over 20 seconds, an amount almost unheard of in such a short event. Andrea Dupont of the Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) finished second, while Sarah Daitch of Forth Smith Ski Club finished third, 24.1 seconds back of Jones, but just ahead of junior sensation Maya MacIsaac-Jones, who finished fourth.
“I really don’t know what happened,” Perianne Jones said in a post-race interview with FasterSkier. “I got one split that put me six seconds ahead, but I guess I must have just kept the pace high.”
The day itself was tough for classic skiing. Temperatures hovered around 0 degrees Celsius, and the course featured some tough hills both in the shade and in the sun, meaning everyone had some difficulty with getting grip.
“There was lots of herring-bone,” said Jones. “The hills were pretty soft.”
Jones will start the 10 k freestyle handicap start Sunday with a big lead over the other women, and intends to go for the win from the gun.
“I’m going to have to ski it like it’s an individual start race and see how it goes,” she said.
While Jones posted a large gap for the victory, in Open Men it was the complete opposite.
The men raced a 3.5 k classic course with some difficult hills, and as tends to happen in prologues, the finish times were extremely tight.
Jones’ team mate Stefan Kuhn (CNST) edged out Drew Goldsack (AWCA/CNST) by just 1.3 seconds for the win, while Graham Nishikawa (AWCA) finished 2.2 seconds back of Kuhn to fill out the podium.
“It was good to get the win today,” Kuhn said in an interview with FasterSkier following his race.
Kuhn, who is focusing mainly on World Championships, was especially happy to get the win because he had been putting in some big volume hours, and wasn’t sure how his body would respond.
“The goal is to be fast at World Championships, so I’m doing my normal sort of training to peak for it,” he said.
And Kuhn was fast in notoriously difficult event – the prologue. Racing an event as short as the prologue is tricky – for most elite athletes, it has been a long time since they have raced such quick races.
“They’re a really hard distance to ski,” said Jones. “They hurt a lot – it was a lot easier when I was a midget.”
Kuhn, however, counts it among his favorite events – especially when it’s classic.
“As a sprinter who also likes short-distance events, it suits me well,” he said. “It’s extremely hard, but I really like it.”
The one notable absence on the results list from the day was George Grey (CNST), who according to Kuhn woke up “not quite feeling 100%,” and opted out of racing to play it safe for upcoming World Championships.
Kuhn will start the 15 k freestyle pursuit race Sunday second, behind Goldsack. Kuhn wasn’t originally planning on starting at all, as his body was not feeling great, but he felt that his form is strong enough that he will attempt to contend.
However, he doesn’t have high hopes – he considers skate-skiing his weaker discipline, and the 15 k freestyle is one of his least favorite race types.
“I’m going to try and ski tactically and see how long I can hang on to Nish,” he said. “Realistically, I’m going to be fighting for third place, maybe with [Brian] McKeever, who seems to be moving through the field strongly.”
The 10/15 k freestyle handicap start races will cap off the NorAm mini-tour on Sunday.
The start list has not yet been released for tomorrow, but as soon as it is available, a link will be posted.