Canadian Ski Nationals (Thunder Bay, Ontario): Freestyle pursuits and sprints
Ski Nationals continued Tuesday and Wednesday at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, with 10- and 15-kilometer freestyle pursuits (based on Sunday’s 5/10 k classic interval starts) followed by sprints.
On Tuesday, Jess Cockney of the Canadian World Cup Team and Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) raced to first in the men’s 15 k freestyle pursuit, up from sixth after the 10 k classic. His cumulative time for the two races was 1:04:06.7 hours, just 1.2 seconds ahead of Ty Godfrey of Team R.A.D. in second. (Godfrey previously placed ninth in the 10 k classic.) Michael Somppi, who grew up skiing with Lappe Nordic and now trains with the AWCA, completed the podium in third, 2 seconds behind Cockney, after placing 10th in the classic race.
Just behind Somppi, another local skier Evan Palmer-Charrette, of Lappe Nordic and the National Team Development Centre (NTDC) Thunder Bay, placed fourth in the pursuit (+2.8). Antoine Cyr and Alexis Dumas, both of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH), finished together in fifth (+11.5) and sixth (+11.6), respectively, ahead of Knute Johnsgaard (World Cup Team) in seventh (+13.4), Scott Hill of Barrie Cross Country (BXC) in eighth (+16.3), Reed Godfrey (Team R.A.D.) in ninth (+31.8), and Ryan Jackson (BXC) in 10th (+38.9).
The fastest 15 k skate time of the day was clocked by Somppi in 36:54.5. Ty Godfrey had the second fastest time of day, just 0.2 seconds back, while Cockney’s freestyle time ranked third fastest (+4.9).
American Caitlin Gregg, of Central Cross Country (CXC), Team Gregg and Loppet Nordic Racing, won the women’s 10 k freestyle pursuit by more than a minute in 43:12.4, after placing second in the 5 k classic. The winner of Sunday’s classic race, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) scored her second-straight title as the first Canadian in the pursuit, placing second overall, 1:03.4 behind Gregg. Annika Hicks (AWCA) was the second Canadian in third overall (+1:16.3), up from fifth in the classic race.
Katherine Stewart-Jones (NTDC Thunder Bay/National U25 Team) placed fourth in the pursuit (+1:18.3), Frédérique Vézina (CNEPH) fifth (+1:24.0), Alannah Maclean (NTDC Thunder Bay) sixth (+1:40.8), Maya MacIsaac-Jones (RMR/National U25 Team) seventh (+2:07.8), Lisle Compton (NTDC Thunder Bay) eighth (+2:14.4), Laura Leclair (CNEPH) ninth (+2:19), and Annika Richardson (NTDC Thunder Bay) 10th (+2:19.6).
Gregg clocked the fastest 10 k skate time in 27:51.6, while Vézina was second fastest on the day, 1:06.5 back. Hicks had the third-fastest time, 1:07.3 back from Gregg.
On Wednesday, Cockney racked up his second-straight national title with a victory in the 1.4 k freestyle sprint final. Cockney edged Andy Shields (Lappe Nordic) by 0.83 seconds for the win in 2:39.87. Just three-hundredths of a second behind Shields, Palmer-Charrette reached the podium in third (+0.86), Somppi followed in fourth (+2.14), Julian Smith (NTDC Thunder Bay/National U25 Team) finished fifth (+4.3) and Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (Stefan Kuhn HP Team) placed sixth (+11.81).
Shields won the qualifier to start the day in 2:44.54, while Cockney was the second-fastest men’s qualifier, 1.39 seconds off Shields’s time. Shields went on to win his quarterfinal and place second in the first semifinal, while Cockney was second to Smith in both the fourth quarterfinal and second semifinal.
MacIsaac-Jones won the women’s skate-sprint final in 3:06:68, five-hundredths of a second ahead of Stewart-Jones in second. In a race for third, Maclean took it (+4.82), ahead of Gregg in fourth (+5.01). Hicks placed fifth (+7.22) and Zoë Williams (Nakkertok) was sixth (+9.12).
MacIsaac-Jones topped the women’s qualifier by 5.78 seconds in 3:12.87. Mathilde Petitjean of Club Nordique Mont Sainte-Anne (C.N.M.S.A.) qualified second, and Maclean was 6.42 seconds back in third.
MacIsaac-Jones then won the first quarterfinal and placed second to Stewart-Jones in the first semifinal. Stewart-Jones finished second to Bouffard-Nesbitt in the second quarterfinal, and Maclean won the second semifinal over Gregg, after finishing second to Gregg in the fifth quarterfinal.
Nationals conclude with 30/50 k classic mass starts on Saturday.