Friendly Canucks Liliane Gagnon and Jasmine Lyons Work Together in Top-15 at Nordic U23 World Ski Championships in Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C.—Two close friends on Team Canada, Liliane Gagnon and Jasmine Lyons, took on the world together, and skied into the top-15 on Tuesday at the Under-23 Nordic World Ski Championships in Whistler, B.C.
Both 20 years old, Gagnon and Lyons finished 12th and 13th respectively in the women’s classic cross-country ski mass start race.
Competing at her four World Championships, and first in the U23 category, Gagnon shook off the pre-race jitters to ski steady and composed over the 30-kilometre trek. The Quebec City athlete completed her six laps around Whistler Olympic Park in a time of 1:03:20.7.
“I started off pretty stressed out but then I felt good (once the race started),” said Gagnon, who has been competing in her rookie season on the World Cup this year. “The skis were great – the kick, the glide – everything added up and was great for me today.”
Even moreso that she had her pal, Jasmine Lyons, on her hip for the duration of the Nordic marathon.
“We were working together throughout the race in the group of 10-13th place. We could see the top-eight, and knew they were pretty good climbers but we were trying to get time on them on the downhills and the flats,” added Gagnon.
“We (Jasmine and Liliane) have done a lot of racing together. Knowing someone’s strengths and trying to pull with them to the finish makes a big difference.”
It took a little time, but Lyons was definitely determined to connect with Gagnon, in the first lap. After getting tangled up as the pack exited the stadium, Lyons began picking apart the 43-woman field until she caught her teammate.
“There was a pile up in the first corner that kind of slowed us down before going up the first hill. I just tried to stay patient and worked my way up to that top-10 alongside Liliane,” said Lyons, who battled back from 45th position. “Once I saw Liliane, I wanted to get to her to ski together and work our way up the field. I think it worked out.”
Taking turns leading the chase group, the Canadian duo charged up and down the ruthless terrain at the 2010 Olympic venue.
Lyons, who hails from the Nation’s Capital City and regularly skis for the UNH Wildcats on the NCAA Circuit, stopped the clock at 1:03:28.2 for 13th spot.
Norway’s Kristin Fosnaes was first across the finish line in a time of 1:01:40.0. Germay’s Lisa Lohmann finished 2.3 seconds back at 1:01:42.3 for the silver medal. Margrethe Bergane, of Norway, rounded out the women’s podium in third at 1:01:47.2.
Two other Canadian women squeaked into the top-30. Amelia Wells (Saanich, B.C.) was 27th at 1:06:00.9, and Anna Parent (Canmore, Alta.) placed 30th at 1:06:45.6.
In the men’s race, it was the veteran of the Canadian team leading the way with a top-20 placing.
Rémi Drolet, of Rossland, B.C., was skiing to a top-15 result until the final five kilometres when he dropped off the pace, and into 17th spot.
“The first lap was a bit controlled but at the same time I was trying to move up. Sometimes that is hard to do in classic. I couldn’t move up and wasted a lot of energy at the beginning,” said Drolet. “When it (the pace) really went, then I kind of popped off the back. I was able to catch up a little bit and do a little back and forth, but in the end, I didn’t quite have it today.”
Drolet, a 2022 Olympian, has competed at three World Juniors, one Under-23 World Championship event, and also represented Canada at the senior World Ski Championships in 2021.
“I was hoping to be fighting it out with those top guys today,” added Drolet. “The skis were fast and I had good kick, but my body at the end just wasn’t able to ski to its potential so it is a bit disappointing.”
The Norwegians cranked up the pace and finished one-two when the world’s best athletes under the age of 23 crossed the finish line. Jonas Vika was captured the World Championship title with a time of 54:25.7. Edvard Sandvik skied to the silver medal at 54:27.0.
Julien Arnaud, of France, stopped the clock at 54:29.3 to secure third spot on the men’s podium.
Other Canadian men’s results included Max Hollmann, of Thunder Bay, Ont., in 25th (56:26.8) followed by Montreal’s Erikson Moore at 40th (58:16.3).
More than 500 athletes – ages 16-23 – representing 37 countries are compete on Whistler’s ski trails and jumping towers over the next 10 days. It is just the third time Canada has played host to the Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships. The Canmore Nordic Centre welcomed the next generation of Olympians in 1997. The World Juniors for ski jumping and Nordic combined were also held in Mont-Sainte Anne, Que. in 1979. It will be the first major international event at Whistler Olympic Park since the 2010 Games.
Race Schedule: The race schedule can be viewed here
Event spectator tickets are $5/person for a 1-day event ticket, or $25 for access on all event days. Kids ages 6 & under get free access! Those who have a regular Whistler Olympic Park day ticket or season pass for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing can spectate for free. Purchase tickets online here, or at the gate at Whistler Olympic Park.
The majority of the events are being livestreamed. More livestream information here