World Cup Finals Chatter: Canada

FasterSkierMarch 24, 2017
Canada’s Alex Harvey with his medals for placing second in the Distance World Cup and third in the Overall World Cup on the last day of World Cup Finals in Quebec City on Sunday, March 19. (Photo: John Lazenby/

After last weekend’s three-day World Cup Finals mini tour drew nearly 60 North American competitors and tens of thousands of spectators to Quebec City, it’s only fitting that we share the quotes from some of the athletes you haven’t heard from yet (and some you have). Here is a collection of some of the most interesting comments from the Canadian World Cup and Nation’s Group skiers at World Cup Finals. There were 30 in total. (Stay tuned for the U.S. notes & quotes version.)

And here are our race reports (with links to results at the bottom of each) from Friday though Sunday, March 17-19:

Day 1 freestyle sprints: Men | Women

Day 2 classic mass starts: Women | Men

Day 3 freestyle pursuits: Men | Women


On being selected:

Canada’s 21-year-old Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier, of the Pierre Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) racing his first World Cup during the men’s freestyle sprint qualifier at World Cup Finals on March 17 in Quebec City. (Photo: John Lazenby/

“I was surprised when I was selected, but I am very happy to be here.” — Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (CNEPH)

“I was stressing when they announced that, ‘The national group, maybe you will have the opportunity to qualify for your first World Cup.’ [My coach and I] just kind of put that to the back of our minds and decided that if it happened, it was going to be an incredible icing on the cake part of my race season, and it happened and it was super exciting. I was really just focusing on the process so I am super excited to be here, a little overwhelmed but really excited.” — Annika Richardson (Junior NST/NTDC Thunder Bay)

“I was just happy to be here. Last year I got my concussion in Montreal [during the Ski Tour Canada] so I didn’t actually get to race here so it’s a great place to come and race. I’ve raced here just a couple of times and it’s an incredible feeling to have the crowd behind you. … It’s really great because you don’t get that in Europe. You get lots of fans, but not people who know your name so it’s pretty cool.” — Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers)

“I am really really excited to be here. I did the [Ski Tour Canada] last year and this is probably my favourite venue to race at in Canada, being in the city and it’s a beautiful day. Can’t really ask for anything more.” — Annika Hicks (AWCA)

“I didn’t reach my goal of qualifying for the World Championships, but to race at this level this weekend far exceeds all my expectations. I was a forerunner for the Tour of Ski last year, but now I’m actually racing. That makes me really happy!” — Laura Leclair (Junior NST/Chelsea Nordiq)

“It’s the cherry on the sundae. It’s good to go up against the best in the world, and it’s an opportunity to see what you have to work on for the next year, and try your hardest.” — Frédérique Vézina (CNEPH)

On racing in Canada:

“I thought last year was going to be my last chance to race internationally in Canada so I am really thrilled to be here.” — Devon Kershaw (Canadian World Cup Team)

“We are pretty lucky to have the end of the World Cup here in our own house, and it’s really exciting to be able to finish of the season here in Canada and it’s definitely convenient to be able to relax here after we are finished. We have Canadian nationals still, so I guess not complete relaxation … but it’s really fun to be back in Canada.” — Len Valjas (Canadian World Cup Team)

“It’s nice to be back here in Canada racing a World Cup. I think we are pretty lucky to have the opportunity as a group of Canadians, developing skiers, young guys, old guys like me just trying to get up there, but also seeing Alex skiing so well, world champion. I mean, what can you say? It’s awesome. It’s good for our sport right now.” — Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team)

“The atmosphere here is really on par, today especially, with the races we do overseas, and especially being in a city center that we know so well like Quebec, it’s a really good energy.” — Jess Cockney (Canadian World Cup Team), after Saturday’s 15 k classic mass start

“It’s absolute incredible to come back to Quebec after last year and race something that’s familiar to us already, but slightly different because the race course, they change out the race course, which is always exciting. It’s amazing to race in front of Canadians and to have people cheering your name all around the course that actually personally know you, so it’s a pretty incredible experience to come out here and do that. “ — Alannah MacLean (NTDC Thunder Bay)

“It’s been great to finish the season at home. It’s been a really long season, though. I have been overseas way more than I ever have in my life so I think it’s taking a little bit of a toll on the energy, but I am just so excited to be able to race at home here and enjoy this amazing atmosphere.” — Dahria Beatty (National U25 Team/AWCA)

“I was pretty tired after such a long season, and I was really happy to be here and to able to finish the season on such a fun note, to ski a World Cup at home. It’s happened the last two years, but it doesn’t really happen that often, so it’s a unique opportunity. I gave it everything that was left in the tank, and I had a lot of fun.” — Katherine Stewart-Jones (NST U25 Team/NTDC Thunder Bay)

“This is huge for Canada, and I hope FIS can see that it’s really amazing to have races here, and I think the athletes like it, too, so I hope this becomes a staple even after our generation. There’s enough North American skiers that we should have this here every year. We’re winning medals too and Alex is up there in the overall, we deserve to make them travel a little bit. I’d love to see more races here.” — Valjas

On being cheered on by tens of thousands of fans:

“It started in warmup where you kind of would be skiing around and people recognized the National Development team jacket and yell, ‘Go Canada!’ and I was like, OK, just smile and keep going and trying to keep my focus, but it felt incredible to ski around and have everyone cheering for you and rooting for you because you’re Canadian. Definitely had to nail my focus today a bit more than usual because of that, but good practice.” — Richardson

Alex Harvey (Canadian World Cup Team) racing to fourth in the men’s freestyle sprint qualifier on the first day of World Cup Finals, last Friday, March 17, in Quebec City. He went on to win the final. (Photo: John Lazenby/

“Sometimes they’re cheering really loud and you know it’s actually not for you, it’s just the commentator mentioned Alex but then you’re just like, I’ll take it. I’ll pretend they’re cheering for me.” — Valjas

“It’s a beautiful day in Quebec and the crowds are pretty amazing. It just kind of keeps the intensity high the whole time so it’s a fun place to race.” — Dupont, after Sunday’s 10 k freestyle pursuit

“It was another absolutely beautiful day out here, lots of home crowd cheering us on, so it was a really perfect day at the races.” — Knute Johnsgaard (NST U25 Team/AWCA), after Sunday’s 15 k freestyle pursuit

“Today was not the greatest day in my skiing career, however, it was pretty amazing because the crowd was cheering me on the whole way.” — Julien Locke (NST U25 Team/AWCA), after Saturday’s 15 k classic mass start

“It’s funny that people recognize me and know my name. It’s heart warming to have all the public support me and the Canadian team. … It was really an amazing weekend, the atmosphere, the crowd, the conditions, everything was on point. I couldn’t of hoped for a better way to end the season.” — Cendrine Browne (NST U25 Team/CNEPH)

On making the jump to the World Cup:

“It was amazing. The first day it was a lot to take in with the crowd and such a high-level race and having such high-level skiers around, but then Saturday I was more used to it and I was able to really focus on my race and put in a good effort.” — Katie Weaver (Junior NST/Hollyburn)

“You’ve got a lot of fast guys, and you’re kind of going from being one of the faster guys to obviously to one of the slowest guys around, and that’s a cool feeling, actually.” — Gareth Williams (Junior NST/Telemark)

“It’s always intimidating, but once you’re on the starting line, it’s mostly exciting. I’m not expecting to lead the pack anytime soon, so all I can do is try giving my max effort.” — Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH)

“This was my first. I qualified for a couple in the winter but because of U23 [World Championships] I wasn’t able to take advantage of it.” — Evan Palmer-Charrette (NTDC Thunder Bay)

“This was my fifth [World Cup race]. I still feel like there’s a lot of work I can do to be more competitive in this field, but I think I’m getting more and more comfortable with it in general.” — Sadie White (NTDC Thunder Bay) 

“I don’t think I’m at this level of competition yet, but I think it’s so fun to be here and see how the fastest people in the world race.” — Mia Serratore (NTDC Thunder Bay), at the end of her first World Cup weekend

“I mean, they’re so fast out there, but I love it because I get to see what level I need to get to. Racing in Quebec, it’s so fun. The crowd’s just crazy. It’s so good.” — Joey Foster (Team Hardwood), at the end of his first World Cup weekend

Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic/Team R.A.D.) racing to 36th in the men’s skate sprint qualifier at World Cup Finals in Quebec City on March 17. (Photo: John Lazenby/

On five Canadian men qualifying for the sprint heats in the top 30 (a first for Canada in a World Cup):

“I am really pumped for everyone and I think it’s really good for the sport to see that many people up there. We have been sprinting really well in a lot of races and have a lot of good sprinters so it’s good to see everyone get up there and do well. Hopefully they can carry it out in the heats and get a couple of those closer to the podiums.” — Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic/Team R.A.D.)

On sprinting:

“It’s about 89.5 k too short for me these days.” — Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team), who also specializes in marathons


On conditions:

“The snow is perfect conditions. The snow is cold, but the sun is warm, and the track is holding up great, so good Canadian conditions.” — Beatty, after Friday’s sprint

“I guess it’s pretty tricky to get grip with hard wax in this stuff, and I think klister would’ve been too slow so I had a lot of speed on my skis but my grip was definitely lacking a bit in the sun. In the shade it was pretty good, but it was a lot of upper body today, which I think was the way to go anyways.” — Andy Shields (Lappe Nordic), after Saturday’s 15 k classic mass start 

“The skis showed good grip. The technicians delivered today. The issue was more the skier!” — Carrier-Laforte, after Saturday’s 10 k classic mass start

“The snow was fine. It didn’t really even get that mushy on the course and the downhills were pretty glazed actually. It stayed nice and firm. My skis were just amazing today. I was drafting people and shooting by them no problem. It was really good, really competitive skis.” — Foster, after Sunday’s 15 k freestyle pursuit

On the course:

“It’s tough because there’s a lot of flats, so you’re always working, whether it’s gradually downhill or gradually uphill. It’s good. It’s a challenging course in its own way. It’s not your typical World Cup where you have a huge climb and then a big rest after that, you’re just working stead, so it hurts. It’s a different kind of tough.” — Valjas

On sunscreen:

“Today is the first day that warranted the sunscreen, but I put the zinc on every day. Gotta protect yourself.” — Cockney

On goals for World Cup Finals: 

“My goals were just to ski relaxed and push my body as hard as I can. I’ve really been injured this entire season so I haven’t done really that much racing at all. I was able to get enough racing in to qualify for this World Cup, which was something that I didn’t think was going to be possible at the beginning fo the season when I got injured, but to be here and not be 100 percent, but to be able to race in this environment is something that keeps me in the sport.” — MacLean (who herniated a disk) 

“I really want to push as hard as I can for each race. I think that is something that sometimes it is difficult to do in Canada on the NorAm circuit because maybe if you’re not having a good race, you could pull back a little bit and save yourself for the next day and come in seventh instead of fifth, but here, I will still probably be in the back of the field, but I really want to push and feel good every time I cross the finish line that I gave it my all and kept pushing.” –– Richardson

Cendrine Browne, of the Canadian U25 Team and CNEPH, after finishing 41st in the women’s 10 k classic mass start on Saturday at World Cup Finals in Québec City. (Photo: John Lazenby/

On digging deep:

“Somehow I found a bit of fight. I didn’t really do much of a warmup today. I opted for a conserving energy strategy and I think it worked well. We’ve done so much racing that my body didn’t really need a warmup to get going so I did as little as possible before the racing to save everything I had for this last effort.” — Beatty

“It’s been a lot of racing this week. I was down in Lake Placid doing U.S. Junior Nationals and then I came here and now we’re off to Canadian Nationals for another three races. It’ll be a lot of racing, but that’s what I love to do.” — Weaver

“[After] yesterday’s race, I wasn’t going to start today and then the physio said, ‘If I’m treating you, you’re going to start.’ And I was like, ‘OK, Let’s do this!’ And she actually fixed me and today was much better.” — Valjas, on his upper-back injury, after Sunday’s 15 k freestyle pursuit

“I felt really really good, but I’m just having so many problems with my shins and my calves this season so it just makes it really difficult to ski properly.” — Serratore 

On Quebec City:

“Quebec City, as far as Canada goes, is probably the closest thing to Europe, but it’s still the same country, same food.” — Palmer-Charrette

On their season overall:

Devon Kershaw leads Canadian teammate Graeme Killick in the men’s 15 k classic mass start at World Cup Finals on March 18 in Quebec City. (Photo: John Lazenby/

“It has been a really good season. It has been my most consistent season to date, so I have been really happy with it, have had some really good races and I just think especially in sprinting, my bad races are way better than they have been in the past.  The fluctuation is smaller so I am showing good signs for next year.” — Beatty

“I think the season for me was a little disappointing. I had some signs of the training paying off, but I think overall I might have overdone it through the summer in sections and from that I struggled with some sickness through a lot of the season. I think some races were OK for me and I’ll take that and try to fix some things for next year over the summer and see what I can do. I mean, today was a good reminder that skate is not there and I really need to work on it for next year.” — Graeme Killick (Canadian World Cup Team), after 15 k skate pursuit

On season highlights:

“It’s got to be those two relay medals, especially the 4 x 7.5 k, that was so cool because my whole career we’ve tried to get a medal there and I was honored to be the anchor and that was a huge moment in my career to be able to pull that off and secure a medal for the men’s relay was just awesome. And of course, the first win for me with Alex was also just as special. It’s been a good year. Lots of highs, some lows, and I’m ready for next year.” — Valjas, on historic third-place finish with men’s relay at World Cup in Ulricehamn, Sweden, and World Cup freestyle team sprint win with teammate Alex Harvey in Toblach, Italy

Emily Nishikawa (Canadian World Cup Team) racing to 38th on the final day of 2017 World Cup Finals on Sunday in Quebec City, the women’s 10 k freestyle pursuit. (Photo: John Lazenby/

“I think the relay in Lahti for us, it was one of our best women’s results since 2001 or something like that, so 16 years.” — Emily Nishikawa (Canadian World Cup Team), on the Canadian women’s team’s 10th place in the 4 x 5 k relay at 2017 Nordic World Championships

“For me, it would be Davos. I was really happy with my form there, and I think I never felt that good in a skate race. I like altitude, too, so that course kind of suits me. That was my best individual start ever so it’s good to have one of those. I was really happy with that day.” — Killick, referring to his 21st place in the World Cup 30 k freestyle individual start on Dec. 10 in Davos, Switzerland

“That’s hard to call. Probably the highlight of my season was my 26th was La Clusaz, getting my first distance top 30. That was something I wasn’t really sure I’d be able to bridge this season and to be able to ski into the top 30 in distance as well as sprint this year wasp pretty amazing so that was a big step for me forward in coming years.” — Beatty, on her 26th place in the World Cup 10 k freestyle mass start on Dec. 17 in La Clusaz, France

“Maybe this, watching Harv do well. The Holmenkollen was an amazing experience. It was hard and not my best finish ever, but it was a really, really cool experience and I can’t say enough how awesome it was.” — Kennedy, who placed 47th in the 50 k classic mass start at Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway, on March 11

On the upcoming training season:

“I’m pretty relieved that this season’s over and really excited to kind of get a fresh start on next year and just take some time to reflect on this past season and look at the things that went well and things that I could improve on and hopefully use those as building blocks for next year’s training.” — Johnsgaard

“This summer, I’ll put in practice what I learned from my World cup experience. I’ll really focus on technique and work on my tempo. The only way to improve is to keep racing against the best.” — Browne

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