Canadians Ski into New Olympic Quadrennial at Season Opener in Finland
MUONIO, Fin.—A group of seven Canadian cross-country ski athletes skied into the new season while lining up in a trio of FIS races in Muonio, Finland over the weekend.
Xavier McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) led five men and two women into battle in a classic-ski sprint race, followed by an individual start 10-kilometre classic ski race and a 10- and 15-kilometre individual start freestyle event.
Posting top junior times in the opening category of the weekend distance races, the 19-year-old McKeever was the top Canadian male in all three races, highlighted by a 20h-place finish in the 15-kilometre freestyle race and a 21st-place finish in the sprint.
“Overall, it was a good first weekend of racing. I went in with the goal of trying to learn as much as possible as we were racing against some of the best Norwegians, Germans, Finns, Italians, and Polish athletes,” said McKeever, who is a member of the National Ski Team’s Olympic NextGen program. “I was happy to make the sprint heats and that’s definitely where I learned the most because I was racing against five, full time World Cup skiers. It was a good weekend to get the new race season started and I was happy with the performances.”
The two Canadian women in Finland also skied to a strong start to the season while combining to post three, top-25 results.
Quebec City’s Liliane Gagnon was 14th in the classic-sprint race and 24th in the 10-kilometre freestyle race. Anna Parent (Canmore, Alta.) narrowly missed the top-20 in the 10-kilometre classic-ski race, placing 21st.
“This was a great start to the season in Muonio. I’m feeling really good on the skis and I can’t wait to race some more,” said Gagnon.
The following are a complete list of Canadian results.
Athlete Hometown Sprint C 10km C 10/15km F
Liliane Gagnon Quebec City 14 27 24
Anna Parent Canmore, Alta. 27 21 38
Derek Deuling Whitehorse DNS DNS DNS
Max Hollmann Thunder Bay, Ont. 72 60 37
Léo Grandbois Sherbrooke, Que. 40 52 DNS
Sasha Masson Whitehorse 50 DNS 38
Xavier McKeever Canmore, Alta. 21 46 (1st Junior) 20 (1st Junior)
“Overall, the first weekend of the season was a success. We’ve had a solid week of training, followed up with some good racing efforts to start the race season. Debriefing with the entire team each evening proved valuable in taking learnings from each day and applying them to the following days efforts,” said Eric de Nys, NextGen Coach, Nordiq Canada. “We had a few unfortunate body and health issues with Leo missing Sunday’s race with a back issue and Derek skipped all three with a strange lower leg issue that seems to be clearing itself up so we are hopeful that he will be able to race all three next weekend in Bruksvallarna, Sweden.
“We had our wax truck here with our World Cup wax technicians which was extremely beneficial as athletes were able to work together with the tech team to get to know their new skis as well as the techs had a good first weekend of “testing their systems”, getting in some valuable time on snow for themselves so the first weekend isn’t such a shock. The fields were extremely strong and provided valuable learning opportunities. The situation in Muonio is ideal to start the year and everyone is leaving with confidence and belief in the work they’ve done this training season.”
Nordiq Canada is the governing body of para nordic and cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Swix, Lanctôt Sports, Polar and Pembroke – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, Nordiq Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Nordiq Canada, please visit us at https://nordiqcanada.ca.