Olivier Léveillé grinds out 31st-place finish on a monster of a course
By Chris Dornan on behalf of Nordiq Canada
BEIJING, Chn—A trio of Canadian men officially made their Olympic debut in the men’s 30-kilometre skiathlon race on Sunday at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Centre near Beijing.
The youngest member of the Canadian squad at 20 years of age, Olivier Léveillé (Sherbrooke, Que.), finished just outside the top-30 in the 70-man field, clocking a 31st-place time of 1:23:42.0.
“It was a tough course and a really tough race, but I was able to stay in control and finish strong today so I’m feeling pretty good,” said Léveillé. “I’m happy now to be an Olympian. I’m going to eat, get some rest and come back strong for the sprint race.”
Antoine Cyr (Gatineau, Que.) battled through the challenging conditions, completing his eight laps around the punishing course in a time of 1:25:26.9 for 42nd spot.
Rémi Drolet (Rossland, B.C.) was one of 18 athletes pulled from the course after getting lapped near the 20-kilometre mark.
The Canadians skied strong early in the mass start, matching the pace for the first five kilometres before the field broke apart. Léveillé bounced around the middle of pack before finding a comfortable pace in a small group of four who worked together to reel in a handful of skiers before crossing the finish line together.
Two athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee finished on top of the podium. Alexander Bolshunov dusted the field to win with a time of 1:16:09.8. Denis Spitsov skied to the silver medal at 1:17:20.8. Finland’s Iivo Niskanen secured the bronze with a time of 1:18:10.0.
The men’s skiathlon consisted of 15 kilometres of classic cross-country skiing followed by a final 15 kilometres in the free technique. Athletes change equipment in a pit stop area between the two legs with the clock still running.
The men’s and women’s Olympic free technique sprint races are slated for Tuesday, February 8.
Complete Results: https://bit.ly/3rvbG1S
For complete details on Team Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, please visit https://olympic.ca/games/beijing-2022/