Olympic Rookie Olivier Léveillé Leads Canucks in Individual Classic Cross-Country Ski Race at Beijing
BEIJING, Chn—The youngest member on Canada’s Olympic cross-country ski team, Olivier Léveillé, battled to a 29th-place finish at the Beijing Olympics on Friday.
The 20-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que. found his groove while steadily working his way around the 15-kilomtetre course to finish in the elite group of 30 with a time of 40:52.0.
“It is always shard to ski at altitude, but I felt good today,” said Léveillé. “Sometimes you feel like you are stuck in a gear, but I felt like I was stuck in a good gear today.”
Struggling with pace on a punishing skiathlon course in the Olympic opener earlier in the week, Rémi Drolet, of Rossland, B.C., bounced back and was Canada’s next best finisher in 33rd spot with a time of 41:07.7.
“It was definitely an improvement from my last race. I don’t know that I felt a whole lot better. I think I am combating a decent amount of fatigue right now and I’m battling to get over it,” said Drolet. “But I think being able to race my own race and not having to fight to stay with the pack I didn’t blow up. I’m not satisfied with how I skied but my execution was good.”
The nation’s top men’s skier heading into Beijing, Antoine Cyr (Gatineau, Que.), struggled to find his groove. The 23-year-old was left wanting more following a 37th place on Friday, completing the course in a time of 41:17.7.
“I’m really disappointed in the race. It is sad, but this is life and that is why we love sports so much because there are ups and down,” said Cyr. “Emotion around a good performance is insane, but then it is also the same around a bad performance.”
Finland’s Iivo Niskanen was tops all day, posting the fastest splits throughout the course while skiing to the gold medal in a time of 37:54.8. Alexander Bolshunov, who is an athlete representing the Russian Olympic Committee, stopped the clock at 38:18.0 to win the silver. Norway’s Johannes Klaebo claimed the bronze medal with a time of 38:32.3.
Canada will send Katherine Stewart-Jones, Dahria Beatty, Cendrine Browne and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt to the start line on Saturday for the women’s 4×5-kilometre relay.
For complete details on Team Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, please visit https://olympic.ca/games/beijing-2022/