Canadian National Ski TeamCanadian NationalsGeneralNewsRacingBabikov Back in Canada, Winning Nationals; Widmer Tops Women’s 10 k

Avatar Alex KochonMarch 18, 2014
Scott Hill (NDC Thunder Bay/NST) racing to his second-straight individual junior title at Canadian Nationals on Tuesday in the 15 k freestyle in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Scott Hill (NDC Thunder Bay/NST) in the leader’s bib racing to his second-straight individual junior title at Canadian Nationals on Tuesday in the 15 k freestyle in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. (Photo: Emilie Stewart-Jones)

CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland — Five days after Canadian Ski Nationals started at Blow Me Down Trails, the  third races of the week took place Tuesday with the 10- and 15-kilometre freestyle interval starts.

Upon checking out the course profiles before arriving in Newfoundland, the image of Tuesday’s race course was strikingly simple. It went up. It went down. With the exception of a short, flat section around the stadium and a quick up-and-down loop at the end, the course was pretty much one big uphill followed by a descent back to the stadium. Men raced four 3.75 k loops and women three 3.3 k laps, going not quite as high on the hill as the men.

With regards to conditions, the one thing that’s been consistent this week with weather is the ridiculously strong winds, and Tuesday was no exception to this trend. Blowing snow challenged racers with some solid headwinds at points on the course in temperatures around -9 degrees Celsius.

But even with the headwinds it was a quick race. World Cup veteran Ivan Babikov led the charge, winning the senior men’s 15 k in at just over 35 minutes, typical of the top times one might see on a tough World Cup 15 k course.

When the snow cleared (more of a figure of speech: it’s still blowing snow outside), here’s who stood with Babikov at the top of the podium:

Senior Women: Heidi Widmer

Heidi Widmer (front) racing to a victory in the open women's 10 k freestyle on Tuesday at Canadian Nationals in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Heidi Widmer (front) racing to a victory in the open women’s 10 k freestyle on Tuesday at Canadian Nationals in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. (Photo: Emilie Stewart-Jones)

Last fall, Widmer, of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and Canadian Senior Development Team (NST) dealt with the effects of a concussion following a rollerski crash. She stayed focused through the setbacks and managed to put down some solid results throughout the ski season, qualifying for the U23 World Championships and first Olympics in her final year as a U23.

1. Did you have a particular focus going into today’s event? 

“To be present in the moment. Just like Pooh Bear in the ‘Tao of Pooh’. Great read.”

2. Before you knew your result were you happy with today’s race? 

“I had a great time, had good skis and pushed my limits. So I would be happy with my efforts either way. It is even better when that aligns with a win!”

3. Imagine that it is your birthday and you get to choose whatever meal you want. What’s the main course and what’s for dessert? 

“It depends where I’m celebrating — whatever the locals are doing and what is in season! Hopefully it’s Mexican style. For dessert, chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and strawberry filling. Vanilla ice cream on the side.”

Open Women’s 10 k Freestyle Top 10

  1. Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST) 0:26:16.2
  2. Dasha Gaiazova (World Cup Team) +8.1
  3. Chisa Obayashi (Madshus Japan) +31.3
  4. Amanda Ammar (Team Ninja) +45.6
  5. *Anne-Marie Comeau (CNEPH/NST) +48.3
  6. Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST) +57.7
  7. Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST) +58.4
  8. Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NST)  +1:06.5
  9. Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST)  +1:11.8
  10. Katherine Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok) +1:12.4

*Top junior

Senior Men: Ivan Babikov

Ivan Babikov (Canadian World Cup Team) racing to a victory in his first race at 2014 Canadian Nationals, two days after his last World Cup race, in the in Tuesday's 15 k freestyle in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. (Photo: Emilie Stewart-Jones)
Ivan Babikov (Canadian World Cup Team) racing to a victory in his first race at 2014 Canadian Nationals, two days after his last World Cup race, in Tuesday’s 15 k freestyle in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. (Photo: Emilie Stewart-Jones)

A World Cup veteran, Babikov, 33, is fresh off the World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden, after finishing up there in 23rd in the 15 k freestyle pursuit on Sunday. A consistent performer at international races, he really adds to the level of competition here in Newfoundland.

1. Did you have a particular focus going into today’s event?

“Tried to stay awake today with the jet lag from my return from Europe. I worked to keep the speed up through the four laps. I hadn’t skied the course beforehand so I just focused on checking things out the first lap and then pacing based on that.”

2. Before you knew your result were you happy with today’s race?

“A win is a win, and racing back in Canada is always fun. It’d be nice to have some more World Cups over here.”

Imagine that it is your birthday and you get to choose whatever meal you want. What’s the main course and what’s for dessert?

“My wife makes really good Russian fried potatoes — kinda like french fries but healthy — and fried chicken. Something chocolatey for desert, like chocolate cake.”

Men’s 15 k Freestyle Top 10 

  1. Ivan Babikov (World Cup Team) 35:24.1
  2. Graham Nishikawa (Para-Nordic Team/NST) +18.4
  3. Michael Somppi   (AWCA/NST) +26.0
  4. Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) +51.1
  5. Jesse Cockney (AWCA/NST) +1:12.4
  6. Raphaël Couturier (CNEPH/NST) +1:15.0
  7. Kevin Sandau (AWCA/NST) +1:21.3
  8. Russell Kennedy (AWCA) +1:32.1
  9. *Scott Hill (NDC Thunder Bay)  +1:32.7
  10. Frédéric Touchette (Laval) +1:39.3

* Top junior

Junior Women: Anne-Marie Comeau 

Anne-Marie Comeau, 17, racing to a junior women's victory in the open 10 k freestyle at Canadian Nationals on Tuesday in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Anne-Marie Comeau, 17, racing to a junior women’s victory in the open 10 k freestyle at Canadian Nationals on Tuesday in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. (Photo: Emilie Stewart-Jones)

Hailing from the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) and National Junior Team (NST), Comeau, 17, is part of a strong contingent of junior women from Quebec who are making a mark on the Canadian ski scene. With European racing experience already under her belt and two years as a junior, next season, she’ll be one to watch at Junior World Championships.

1. Did you have a particular focus going into today’s event?

“Going into the race I was just thinking about going as hard as I could.”

2. Before you knew your result were you happy with today’s race?

“Yes! I felt good during the race and had fun.”

3. Imagine that it is your birthday and you get to choose whatever meal you want. What’s the main course and what’s for dessert?

“Chicken shish kabobs for dinner and maple syrup pudding for dessert.”

Junior Women’s 10 k Freestyle Top 5

  1. Anne-Marie Comeau (CNEPH/NST) 27:04.5
  2. Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST) +23.5
  3. Katherine Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok Nordique) +24.1
  4. Jennifer Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay/NST) +41.2
  5. Frédérique Vézina (CNEPH) +42.3

Junior Men: Scott Hill

Hill is already on a winning streak this week, making it 2-for-2 in the first couple races. In an effort to showcase some of the other top skiers in the junior men’s category, this reporter interviewed Tuesday’s runner-up Evan Palmer Charrette.

Check out Sunday’s report for Hill’s interview.

Evan Palmer-Charrette (NDC Thunder Bay/NST), the second junior in the open men's 15 k freestyle on Tuesday at Canadian Nationals in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Evan Palmer-Charrette (NDC Thunder Bay/NST), the second junior in the open men’s 15 k freestyle on Tuesday at Canadian Nationals in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. (Photo: Emilie Stewart-Jones)

Charrette, of Thunder Bay in northern Ontario, trains with the National Development Centre in his hometown and is also part of the National Junior Team. A well-known junior on the NorAm circuit, he’s working towards his goal of racing internationally and one day making the World Cup team.

1. Did you have a particular focus going into today’s event?

“Big focus today was pacing and really getting long glides, especially on the uphills in the offset.”

2. Before you knew your result were you happy with today’s race?

“Absolutely. Pacing was great and the body came together today. I’ve been having some trouble with compartment syndrome in my shins, and with illness last week; these didn’t effect me today.”

3. Imagine that it is your birthday and you get to choose whatever meal you want. What’s the main course and what’s for dessert?

“Pad Thai for the main course and a chocolate milkshake for desert.”

Junior Men’s 15 k Freestyle Top 5

  1. Scott Hill (NDC Thunder Bay/NST) 36:56.8
  2. Evan Palmer-Charrette (NDC Thunder Bay/NST) +12.4
  3. Colin Foley (CVTC) +26.4
  4. Alexis Dumas (Quebec Ski Team) +1:03
  5. Benjamin Wilkinson-Zan (NDC Thunder Bay/NST) +1:39.3

Complete results

***

About the Author: A Canadian cross-country ski racer with the Alberta World Cup Academy, Zeke spends most of his time in Canmore, Alberta, but calls Cantley, Quebec, his home. He thinks that you can learn a lot about a person from their goals — his is to ski really fast on the Winter Olympic race course in 2018. Unfortunately he is not competing at 2014 Canadian Nationals on account of an injury. Check out his blog: zekewilliams1.blogspot.ca.

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Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alex@fasterskier.com) 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.

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