If the junior women are a harbinger of things to come, then, with three women in the top 30, Canada’s future looks bright. Canada’s best result in Wednesday’s Junior and U23 World Championships was delivered by Katherine Stewart-Jones, who finished 15th in the junior women’s 1.2-kilometer sprint. She was followed by Dahria Beatty, who finished 20th, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte, who finished 28th.
All three women advanced to the quarterfinals. The fourth Canadian junior, Anne-Marie Comeau, was 52nd.
“I was super excited with how things turned out today,” Stewart-Jones wrote in an email. In spite of a rough start to the quarterfinal, she moved into second place over the top of an uphill, saying that she “managed to squeeze in the side.”
But bad luck struck again, and she was passed by two skiers on an uphill after taking a corner too wide. But the race was not over.
“The German girl fell right in front of me, and, after losing my balance, I was able to stay on my feet and pass her.” Stewart-Jones poured the power into what she described as “really good” skis. “I free skated the last flat and almost caught up to the second girl. I was about one second from the lucky loser spot.”
In spite of alternating good and bad luck, Stewart-Jones was delighted with her performance.
“I was still extremely excited about today. I did not expect to make top 15, but I am satisfied for sure!”
Continuing the strong performances of Canadian women, U23 Heidi Widmer delivered a solid performance on the 1.2 k course, making the quarterfinals and finishing 19th. Teammates Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt placed 34th and Cendrine Brown was 36th in the qualification round.
The top Canadian U23 man was Andy Shields, who finished 39th in the qualification round on a 1.5 k course, followed by Knute Johnsgaard in 42nd, Patrick Stewart-Jones (older brother to Katherine Stewart-Jones) in 50th, and Sebastien Townsend in 53rd.
“Conditions were rock hard which is not good for me,” Shields wrote in an email. “If it was mushy I would have qualified.”
Foster Agnus was the top junior man, finishing 45th in the qualification round, with Scott Hill and Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier coming in 50th and 51st, respectively. Benjamin Wilkinson-Zan was 64th.
The Canadians have all been in Europe for nearly two weeks getting acclimatized to the different time-zone and to life in Europe. The transition to life in Europe has been easy for the young skiers, according to Shields.
“The event organizers here are very experienced which make it easier for us athletes because there were no extracurricular hassles to deal while we’ve been here.”
Looking forward, Katherine Stewart-Jones was excited about what her team of young women might have to offer this rest of this week.
“I am excited about the team relay because I think we have a strong group of junior girls this year and I can’t wait to see how we will do!”
But her attitude is far from wait-and-see:
“With such a strong field, I am going to be thinking: every second counts!”