Canadian Women’s Relay Team Skis to Ninth in Beijing
BEIJING, Chn—The Canadian women’s relay squad skied to its best result Olympic result in two decades, finishing ninth on Saturday at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Ski Centre.
Skiing on a mission for eighth spot, the women’s team of Katherine Stewart-Jones, Dahria Beatty, Cendrine Browne and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt mixed together their best relay result on the sport’s ultimate stage since the 2002 Games, skiing into the top-10 in the 4×5 kilometre race with a combined time of 57:20.9.
“I love relay days. There is no race more fun than a relay. The 5 k’s are brutal. They are really rough. We all went out together and gave it absolutely everything,” said Stewart-Jones. “I had a good time cheering the girls on when I was done, and I think we can be really proud of our effort.”
The women’s relay consists of each athlete skiing one five-kilometre leg. The first two athletes ski classic-ski format followed by the final two members of the team taking on the skate-skiing legs.
Stewart-Jones (Chelsea, Que.) was first out of the gate for the Canucks , skiing a steady 5km before passing off to Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse) in 10th spot. Beatty, a two-time Olympian, continued her solid run in Beijing where she has rattled off a trio of career-best races, by grabbing two spots on the field before completing her five-kilometre charge around the challenging Nordic trails.
“I just tried to empty the tank out there and give it all I had. I had China to catch at the beginning and saw Japan in the distance and tried to reel them in,” said Beatty. “There was a new pack well out in front of me that was a big group. I did a solo time trial out there and gave it all I had. It was a great result for the team.”
Cendrine Browne (Prévost, Que.) – the only other two-time Olympian on Canada’s Nordic Ski Team in China – skied a steady third leg to hang onto the eighth spot before tagging Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt for the anchor portion of the race.
“Katherine got us in good position and Dahria skied really well. When she tagged me, my job was to keep the gap. I was able to do that,” said Browne. “We were aiming for top-eight. Olivia skied really strong. I’m so proud of our entire team.”
Bouffard-Nesbitt gutted out a solid skate-ski leg where she continued to hold eighth spot until the final kilometre of the race. The Morin Heights, Que. resident battled the last Italian skier through to the finishing stretch but was edged out at the line.
“It was such a privilege to be racing with this team. I was so impressed with my teammates. They did everything they could and I so badly wanted that eighth-place for the team,” said Bouffard-Nesbitt. “It was tough at the end. I could feel Italy on me. I tried to use whatever tactics I had left to play with in last 400 metres.
“She was a little too strong for me in last 50 metres, but I think ninth by four-tenths shows eighth was a realistic goal and all of the girls did exactly what we needed to do.”
Canada’s women’s Olympic relay team of Beckie Scott, Milaine Theriault, Sara Renner and Amanda Fortier were eighth in 2002. The Canadian women also posted ninth at last year’s World Championships, which was also the best result at the premier event in a non-Olympic year in two decades.
Athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee won the women’s relay with a time oof 53:41.0. Germany was second at 53:59.2, while Sweden skied to the bronze medal with a time of 54:01.7.
For complete details on Team Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, please visit https://olympic.ca/games/beijing-2022/