Young Canucks Gain Valuable Experience at Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland
LAUSANNE, SUI.— The international experience is sure to play a key role in the development of four Canadian youngsters who delivered a mix bag of results on the cross-country ski trails at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland over the last week.
Jasmine Drolet (Rossland, B.C.), Liliane Gagnon (Quebec), along with a couple of Whitehorse athletes, Derek Dueling and Sasha Masson, combined to deliver four top-20 finishes in two sprint and one short distance race at the Nordic venue for Team Canada.
Gagnon kicked things off for the Canucks where she was the lone Canadian to qualify for the head-to-head heats of the skate-sprint race which ended in a crash in her opening round, putting the 17-year-old in 29th place.
Gagnon, Drolet and Dueling all qualified for the heats in the unique technical skate-sprint race which features, twists, turns, jumps and action-packed racing on the skinny skis. All three Canadians’ quest for the podium came to an end in the opening round. Drolet finished 20th, Gagnon 23rd and Dueling delivered his first of back-to-back 18th performances in men’s racing. The 17-year-old Dueling was also 18th in the men’s 10-kilometre classic-ski race. Jasmine Drolet delivered the top result of the week, finishing 17th in the women’s five-kilometre classic-ski race.
“We have mixed feelings with performances this week. Some of the athletes were excited and others less so,” said Katie McMahon, who along with Matt Smider, shared coaching duties for Team Canada at the Youth Olympic Games. “The one consensus was this was a very cool experience for all of them. This is the first-time racing in Europe for three of our athletes, so it was an important learning experience for them to compete in a stadium with so many spectators cheering them on. It was so loud I could barely hear myself trying to give them splits.”
The Youth Olympic Games brought together more than 1,880 athletes ages 15 to 18, from 70 nations, in Lausanne, Switzerland where they competed in more than 80 events between January 9-22.
“A multi-sport games is such an important experience for these young athletes to have with them,” added McMahon. It gives them great perspective on what it means to wear the Canadian maple leaf with others who are also at the top sport, and it is a good reminder that on days they may not have been happy with their performance, they got here for a reason and are still so fortunate.”
Each of the four Canadians have been steadily working their way through the Canadian performance pathway. The Youth Olympic Games will provide a key learning tool to get them to the next level.
Drolet is a Canada Winter Games champion who also placed second in the 2019 Rising Stars race at the World Cup in Quebec City. Liliane Gagnon was the aggregate winner in her age category at the 2019 Canadian Ski Championships. Derek Dueling has racked up seven medals in his age group at the Canadian Ski Championships over the last two years, while Sasha Masson won a bronze medal in the team sprint, and had three, top-10 finishes in distance races at the Canadian Ski Championships in 2019.
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 – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Swix and Lanctôt Sports– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, Nordiq Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Nordiq Canada, please visit us at www.nordiqcanada.ca.