Katherine Stewart-Jones and Remi Drolet Strike First at Canadian Cross-Country Ski Championships
WHISTLER, B.C.— Olympians Katherine Stewart-Jones and Remi Drolet captured the first gold medals at the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Championships on Sunday which are being held in conjunction with the US Super Tour Finals in Whistler, B.C.
The 26-year-old Stewart-Jones, who finished fourth overall in the international open women’s category, was the top Canadian in the 5-kilometre individual start free technique race. Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Que., snagged her second National title after completing the loop at Whistler Olympic Park in a time of 12:21.0.
“It was really exciting to race today and having the Americans here I knew it was going to be a competitive race,” said Stewart-Jones.
“Overall, I was happy with my result. I didn’t think it was my best race. It was the type of race where the conditions are brutal, and nobody feels technically great, but you had to keep going. In warm-up I could tell it was hard conditions to ski in, so I gave myself a few technical cues during the race, making sure I reminded myself it was like this for everyone. I’m really happy with my effort.”
The Americans clocked the top-three times of the day. Jessie Diggins set the golden pace on the day at 11:47.9. Julia Kern was second at 11:55.6, while Caitlin Patterson stopped the clock at 12:17.7 for the open bronze.
Two-time Olympians, Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse) and Cendrine Browne (Prévost, Que.), rounded out the Canadian women’s podium. Beatty clocked a second-place time of 12:44.0, while Browne finished on her heels in third with a time of 12:44.7.
Sonjaa Schmidt, of Whitehorse, battled through the slushy conditions to finish as the top Canadian woman in the under-20 category on the day, winning the gold with a time of 12:54.7.
“It was incredible. I was excited getting back into the stress and excitement of seeing these names on the start list (for the first time in two years), said Schmidt. “I came to the start line not knowing where I’d finish, and I was just telling myself to have a good race. I was satisfied with how it went.”
British Columbia’s Carly Ram won the girls U16 3.3-kilometre race with at time of 8:39.0.
Fresh off returning home from the Olympics and World Cup Finals, Remi Drolet captured the Canadian crown in the men’s 10-kilometre free technique race.
The Rossland, B.C. product completed his two loops at Whistler Olympic Park in a time of 22:50.2.
“I really went into the race today with zero expectations. I was thinking in my head if I execute well and push hard then I’ll be happy with the race and the result just came so that was just a bonus for me,” said Drolet. “With these conditions, you need to stay focused on skiing and not on the conditions. When you overthink it, things happen.
“I was really happy I was able to put together a great race today. This is where I strive to be, and it feels really good.”
Russell Kennedy, who guided Brian McKeever to two victories at the Paralympic Games last week, skied to the silver medal. The Canmore, Alta. resident posted a time of 23:10.0. Antoine Cyr (Gatineau, Que.) clocked-in a at 23:19.9 for third place.
Calgary’s Tom Stephen crossed the line first in the U20 men’s 10-kilometre race, posting a golden time of 23:33.3.
Raleigh Tarte (Kimberley, B.C.) was tops in the U16 boys division with a time of 11:31.3.
Christina Picton (Fonthill, Ont.) clocked a time of 16:01.3 in the women’s 5-kilometre sit-skiing category. Six-time Paralympic bronze-medallist, Collin Cameron of Bracebridge, Ont., won the men’s sit-ski classification with a time of 13:05.9.
“It is awesome to race here. I’ve never been to Whistler before so it nice to race on home soil again,” said Cameron. “My favourite part (of Nationals) is to have some development skiers here and being able to race with them – hopefully keeping them in love with the sport. This is a great way to unwind – to go out and race for the joy of it.”
British Columbia’s Logan Cox won the men’s 10-kilometre Para-Nordic standing race with a time of 28:36.9. Nova Scotia’s Emma Archibald won the 5-kilomemtre women’ standing classification at 18:26.8.
The first National Championships to be staged since 2019, skiers from across Canada and the United States are taking part in the event which combines the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Championships and US Super Tour Finals, from March 20-27, at Whistler Olympic Park. A full schedule is available at https://skinationals2022.ca/#