Note: This article has been corrected to reflect the number of FIS points Jesse Cockney received for placing second in Saturday’s qualifier.
CANMORE, Alberta – That feeling of placing dead last on Thursday haunted Jesse Cockney. Sure, the 23-year-old Alberta World Cup Academy and Canadian Senior Development team skier was only in his sixth World Cup (with previous appearances in Quebec last weekend and Estonia two seasons ago).
But 63rd in the 15-kilometer classic mass start wasn’t going acceptable. At the time, Cockney said he’d toss that one in the trash and move on. Saturday, he stormed out of the gates in the 1.3 k freestyle sprint qualifier in the second race of the Alberta World Cup, posting the second-fastest time, 1.26 seconds behind Sweden’s Emil Jönsson (who won in 2:31.12).
Cockney celebrated upon realizing his feat at the finish, throwing his arms up and yelling. A few moments later, his mom came over to give him a hug. She was ecstatic and so was Cockney.
Regardless of the outcome up the upcoming heats, Cockney wouldn’t likely forget that moment. His previous best in a World Cup individual sprint was 32nd last weekend in Quebec. Saturday’s result gave him 10.01 FIS points before the heats even started.
“A lot of work left to do, but pretty happy right now,” Cockney said.
What was his secret? “Being confident and being pissed off after Thursday,” he said. “I was pretty down after Thursday, but you need the valleys to feel the peaks. This feels pretty awesome.”
At the top of the long climb that summed up this sprint course, Cockney’s father, Angus, a former top Canadian cross-country skier, said he clocked him in fourth. He was excited after the qualifier, as was Cockney’s mom, Trish.
“Feeling nervous. Excited, happy,” she said. “He had challenges on Thursday. Better today. I just hope he can keep it together … and do well.”
“I gotta calm down,” Cockney said. “Now I gotta relax.”
— Gerry Furseth contributed reporting
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.