Media Release

Graham Ritchie Sprints into Top-20 at Nordic World Ski Championships

February 23, 2023

PLANICA, Slo—Graham Ritchie opened the 2023 Nordic World Ski Championships with a 20th-place finish in the men’s classic-ski sprint race on Thursday in Planica, Slovenia.

Building on a strong season of sprint racing on the World Cup, the 24-year-old showed flashes of his top form while posting the 28th-best qualifying time on the 1.4-kilometre course.

The Parry Sound, Ont. resident lined up shoulder-to-shoulder with the gladiators of the sport to kick off the premier event on the nordic calendar in a non-Olympic year.

“I’m super happy with this start to the World Championships and was stoked to get into the heats and have another go with some of the best in the world,” said Ritchie.

Ritchie bolted out of the start gate behind Norway’s Johannes Klaebo, but his goal of advancing from the found of 30 into the semifinals came to a halt when he got tangled in a fall caused by Sweden’s Edvin Anger.

“I was skiing well with the group, but unfortunately that crash in front of me was on a key climb on the course, and I was not able to get around the guy very smoothly which set me back a few seconds,” added Ritchie.

Ritchie popped back on track and dug deep to finish fourth in his heat and 20th overall – his best individual finish at the World Champs. The top-two in each heat, along with the next two fastest times overall, advance to the next round.

“A top-20 is a great start and I’m looking to build off that for the rest of the championship,” he said.

Klaebo was crowned World Champion. Paal Golberg, of Norway, was second while Jules Chappaz (France) crossed the line third.

Canadian teenager, Xavier McKeever of Canmore, Alta., skied two seconds shy of qualifying for the heats in 35th spot. Antoine Cyr (Gatineau, Que.) was 38th, and Julian Smith (Oxenden, Ont.) was 56th.

Two-time Olympian, Dahria Beatty, was the top Canuck in the women’s sprint race. The Whitehorse resident clocked the 35th fastest qualifying time. Katherine Weaver (North Vancouver) was 36th. Oliva Bouffard-Nesbitt (Morin-Heights, Que.) placed 38th and Liliane Gagnon (Quebec City) finished 47th.

Sweden swept the women’s sprint podium. Jonna Sundling won the gold, Emma Ribom silver followed by Maja Dahlqvist in the bronze-medal position.

The World Championships continue on Friday with the men’s 30-kilometre skiathlon.

Complete Results: