Friday, 21 March 2014

Nationals Sprint Day

With only two race days left in Corner Brook Newfoundland, Thursday morning saw Canada’s best lining up behind the starting wand for their sprint qualifier.

The groomers did a good job of tilling the course during the night which combined with the relatively mild temperatures (-7 C in the early morning warming up to around 0 C for the heats) to lead to a nice fast course.
Olympian Amanda Ammar had a few words on the morning of qualifying:
“The course has a lot of flat sections and gradual downhills so you really have to push the free-skate. The couple uphills on the course are steep and pretty soft--you can get bogged down if you’re not careful. It’s a good course for someone who skis powerful with longer glides.”
Follow this link for qualifier results.
Daria (front) and Peri battling it out in the final
Senior Women
First off the line for the heats were the women, starting around noon. National team members Perianne Jones and Daria Gaiazova dominated the day, leading the way in their quarter and semi finals. The two skiers fought it out in the A-final, with Daria leading the way for most of the sprint and ultimately taking the win. Perianne came up beside her in the finish lanes but didn’t quite have enough for the top spot, and placed 2nd. Alysson Marshall held 3rd place pretty consistently through the A-final.
Daria was unavailable for comments on the race but our reporter was able to interview the day’s Silver-medalist.
Perianne Jones --2nd
--How did the race play out for you from a tactical perspective? Did your race plan change very much through the heats? 
“I changed up my tactics a bit because I was slower off the start in the semi. Drafting on the downhill mid-course seemed to work pretty well in the semi so I waited for the downhill to move towards the front in my final too.”
--Did your travels home from Europe have much of an effect on your race today? 
“I got back to Canmore about a week ago, from Drammen, so I had some time to rest before coming out here. I don’t think the travel effected the racing too much.”
--Some athletes like to listen to music to get them pumped up before a race. Is music part of your pre-race plan?  
“I don’t really listen to music very much in my race prep. I just go out there and ski the course and stay relaxed.”

Senior Women’s A-final
Name // Qualifying time
1) Daria Gaiazova // 0:03:12.29
2) Perianne Jones // 0:03:12.66
3) Alysson Marshall // 0:03:17.65
4) Erin Tribe // 0:03:21.40
5)Amanda Ammar // 0:03:21.67
6) Heidi Widmer // 0:03:21.80

Katherine leads the rest of the junior women in their final
Junior Women
Today’s junior women’s heats were quite the battle. With not much room to pass on the course and a particularly technical downhill at the end, many skiers ran into trouble getting tripped up or boxed in. First and second qualifiers, Jennifer Jackson and Sophie Carrier-Laforte, looked quite strong moving up through the quarter finals and took the wins in their respective semi finals. In the A-final though it was Katherine Stewart-Jones of Nakkertok Nordique who avoided trouble and pushed the pace, taking the lead on a tricky downhill corner to cross the line with a comfortable lead over 2nd place.
Katherine Stewart-Jones --1st
--How did the race play out for you from a tactical perspective? Did your race plan change very much through the heats? 
“In the quarter and semi finals I took the lead for a lot of the race but I found people were catching me on the downhills. In the final I made my move later on, moving into the lead on the last downhill corner.”
--At what point in the race did you know you had the win? 
“I was pretty sure I had it when I moved into first on the last downhill, as long as I managed to stay on my feet.”
--How many National titles do you now have to your name? 
“I’ve won three titles, not including a couple where I came second to a Norwegian at Quebec Nationals (2012). This is my first sprint title!!” 

Junior Women’s A-final
Name // Qualifying Time
1) Katherine Stewart-Jones // 0:03:18.95
2) Maya Macisaac-Jones // 0:03:21.52
3) Dahria Beatty // 0:03:22.87
4) Anne-Marie Comeau // 0:03:24.34
5) Jennifer Jackson // 0:03:24.89
6) Sophie Carrier-Laforte // 0:03:29.00

Knute leads Graham (middle) and Patrick in the men's final
Senior Men
After a slow start to the day in his quarterfinal, Yukon skier Graham Nishikawa made it through to the semi finals as lucky loser. Having just returned from Sochi, where he skied as a guide for Paralympian Brian Mckeever (who has won 3 golds), Graham overcame jet-lag and moved up through the semi to the final, where he took his first senior Canadian National title today. The podium was rounded out by Knute Johnsgaard of the Yukon Elite Squad and AWCA/Nakkertok skier Patrick Stewart-Jones, both U23 athletes.
Graham Nishikawa --1st
--How did the race play out for you from a tactical perspective? Did your race plan change very much through the heats?
“I really didn’t feel ready to go in the quarters, fighting jet lag, and I came in fourth in that heat. I was walking back to the car to get the keys and found out I made lucky loser. 
In the semi and the final I just went right to the front each time since there wasn’t much space to pass on the course.”
--Did your recent trip back from Europe effect you much today? 
“I got in at 2:20am the day of the 15k [the 18th]. I wasn’t as worried racing right off the flight but today, two days later, I thought it’d be tough. I just went out there to have fun today and enjoy the racing”
--Is this your first National sprint title? How many titles do you currently have to your name? 
“I’ve got a number of junior titles but this is actually my first senior National title! I have a lot of silver and bronze medals at home.”

Senior Men’s A-final
1) Graham Nishikawa // 0:02:58.79
2) Knute Johnsgaard // 0:02:58.86
3) Patrick Stewart-Jones // 0:02:58.90
4) Raphaël Couturier // 0:03:03.41
5) Kevin Sandau // 0:03:08.99
6) Andy Shields // 0:03:13.59

Colin (front) and Evan sprint it out for the line in the junior final
1st --Junior Men
NDC Thunder Bay continues its dominance of the junior men’s category. Instead of Scott Hill taking gold in the sprint though it was Tuesday’s (the 15k skate) second place finisher, Evan Palmer-Charrette, who notched another gold for the Thunder Bay centre. Scott Hill, winner of the first two races this week, finished 3rd. The second step of the podium was occupied by CVTC skier Colin Foley. Colin won both his quarter final and semi but was denied today’s junior title in the final, as Evan put down the stronger finish to beat him to the line.
Evan talked to Fasterskier about his performance in Tuesday’s race (which you can read about here) so in the interest of a different perspective our reporter interviewed Colin on his performance.
Colin Foley --2nd place
--How did the race play out for you from a tactical perspective? Did your race plan change very much through the heats? 
“In the quarterfinal I wanted to conserve my energy so I didn't lead any of it except for the final stretch. In the semi’s I wanted to make it to the final without risking anything and I was feeling good so I lead off the start and took it fast all the way around. The final I really just tried to make sure I was in the top three coming to the steep climb about halfway through the course. After that it was just about giving everything I had left.”
--Is this your first National sprint podium? How many podiums do you currently have to your name? 
“Before this nationals I only had 1 podium, it came last year with a silver in the 10km skate. So yes this is my first podium in the sprint. In the past my distance skiing has been much better so I'm very happy to get on a sprint podium.”
--Do you have a favourite song to get you in the mood on race day? 
“I don't like to listen to music very close to my race, but I'll often listen to it if I have a long time until I start. In that case it would definitely consist of some of The Black Keys.”

Junior Men’s A-final
1) Evan Palmer-Charrette // 0:03:09.14
2) Colin Foley // 0:03:09.43
3) Scott Hill // 0:03:11.11
4) Nicholas Pigeon // 0:03:13.89
5) Gavin Shields // 0:03:15.44
6) Angus Foster // 0:03:52.78

Thanks to Graham, Perianne, Katherine and Colin for taking the time to chat today! Check back this weekend for the report from the final Canadian Nationals race.

See for full results.

Dream Big!

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