Canadian Relay Squads Ski into Top-10 at World Nordic Ski Championships
OBERSTDORF, Ger.—The Canadian women’s and men’s relay squads both skied into the top-10 at the World Nordic Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany over the last two days.
The women’s team put down their best relay result at the World Championships in 20 years with a ninth-place finish in the 4×5 kilometre race, while a young men’s team with three athletes under 23 years of age, snagged 10th spot in the 4×10 kilometre event.
“It was fun to see that both teams were really in the race and putting their mark on it for a few legs,” said Erik Braten, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “These athletes gave everything they had and showed great team spirit.”
The women’s relay consists of each athlete skiing one five-kilometre leg. The men’s race sends each team member out for a 10-kilometre stint. The first two athletes in each of the races ski classic-ski format followed by the final two members taking on the skate-skiing legs.
Katherine Stewart-Jones (Chelsea, Que.) propelled the Canadian women to their third best relay result in the history of the World Championships. Stewart-Jones passed off to Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse) for the final classic ski leg before Cendrine Browne (Saint-Jérôme, Que.) and Laura Leclair (Quebec City) brought the Canucks across the finish line with a combined time of 57:25.3.
It was just the sixth time in the last 15 years that Canada has fielded a women’s relay team at the premiere race outside the Olympic Winter Games. Canada’s best women’s relay finish came in 2001 when they were sixth at the World Championships. A Canadian team also twice cracked the top-10 in Lahti, Finland. They were 10th in 2017, and eighth back in 1989.
Norway won the women’s event with a time of 53:43.2. Russia was second at 54:09.8, while the Finnish team grabbed the bronze with a time of 54:29.4.
A young men’s squad, including three athletes making their first trip to the senior World Championships, were focused on building on the solid women’s team performance when they hit the start line Friday morning.
Graham Ritchie (Parry Sound, Ont.) set the tone for the Canucks after skiing in seventh spot during his opening leg before handing off to Antoine Cyr (Gatineau, Que.) who has been enjoying a breakthrough week. Russell Kennedy (Canmore, Alta.) took on the first skate-ski leg before the youngest member of the squad, 20-year-old Rémi Drolet (Rossland, B.C.), brought it across the finish line in 10th spot at 1:57:10.9.
“Katherine and Graham both skied very strong opening legs and our teams were quite visible for a while in both races,” added Braten. “Everyone pushed a little extra and I’m super proud of them all. I think our team event results will just keep getting better and better over the next few years.”
The Norwegians topped the Russians for top spot on the men’s podium with a time of 1:52:39.0. Russia came in at 1:52:51.0 for the silver medal, while France was just over a minute off the leading mark, finishing third at 1:53:51.6.
The World Nordic Ski Championships wrap upon the weekend with the distance races.
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