Note: The following article has been updated to clarify that Canadian Head Coach Justin Wadsworth watched Saturday’s sprint remotely from Canmore, Alberta, and the following observations are that of co-coach Louis Bouchard and the rest of the Canadian staff in Toblach, Italy.
“The skis felt sticky,” is what Canadian National Team Head Coach Justin Wadsworth said about his team’s thoughts on their shortcomings on Saturday in the World Cup freestyle sprint in Toblach, Italy.
He was in Canmore, Alberta, and had watched the athletes on television as they raced overseas, but noted that co-coach Louis Bouchard observed that their energy looked “way better than last weekend,” Wadsworth said in a phone interview on Saturday. Despite that, they bled time on the downhills, he said, and failed to break into the heats for the second week in a row in a skate sprint.
Their top finisher was Alex Harvey in 62nd, 8.9 seconds back from the qualifying winner, Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh. He missed qualifying in the top 30 by 4.28 seconds. Also for Canada, Len Valjas placed 73rd (+10.55), Devon Kershaw was 76th (+11.95), Michael Somppi (NDC-Thunder Bay) 78th (+12.1), and Jess Cockney (Canadian Senior Development Team) 81st (+12.68).
Despite a snowmaking loop with consistent conditions all week, the Canadian staff thought the liquid reacted with the powder after a certain amount of time left on the skis, producing “really sticky feeling skis,” Wadsworth said.
In a U.S. Ski Team press release, head coach Chris Grover noted that Saturday’s sprint “was a very fair competition with easy waxing conditions and no nations seemed to struggle with skis.” He was not asked specifically about the Canadians.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s 10- and 15-kilometer classic individual starts, the wax will certainly play a factor as certain skiers successfully doubled poled this course over this distance on skate skis last year. Wadsworth said that although the course is relatively flat, he “still feels like an athlete can do well tomorrow with good waxed classic skis for striding, but they’re going to need to be really good skis and the athletes going to need a really well-executed race to be in there against some of the guys double poling.”