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Ontario was victorious in Saturday’s men 4 x 5-kilometer relay while Quebec earned gold on the women’s side on the fourth-and-final day of cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia.

At the Otway Nordic Centre, Benjamin Wilkinson-Zan, Scott Hill, Jack Carlyle, and Evan Palmer-Charrette put together a winning time of 48:14.9 for Ontario, ahead of the men in blue representing Quebec (Dominique Moncion-Groulx, Julien Lamoureux, Philippe Boucher, and Raphaël Couturier), which placed second (+43.4). British Columbia’s Julien Locke, Colin FerrieDavid Palmer, and Geoffrey Richards took third (+1:35.1).

In the women’s 4 x 3.75 k relay, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Andrée-Anne Théberge, Anne-Marie Comeau, and Marie Corriveau notched a win for Quebec in 41:25.4. They edged British Columbia’s silver medalists Katie Weaver, Molly MillerHannah Mehain, and Eliza-Jane Kitchen by 32.6 seconds, and the Yukon team (Kendra MurrayHannah DeulingNatalie Hynes, and Annah Hanthorn) finished 44.2 seconds behind the winners in third.

Relay resultsMen’s 4 x 5 k / Women’s 4 x 3.75 k 

– François Léger Dionne

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Raphaël Couturier, of St-Jean-Chrysostome, Quebec, and Anne-Marie Comeau, of Abitibi, Quebec, notched victories in Thursday’s men’s and women’s 15- and 10-kilometer freestyle mass starts, respectively, on the third day of cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia.

At the Otway Nordic Centre, Couturier crossed the finish line in 35:13.6, with a 7.7 seconds lead over Evan Palmer-Charrette, of  Thunder Bay, Ontario, in second, and David Palmer, of Rossland, B.C., in third (+ 12.2). This was Couturier’s second medal after a bronze in Monday’s 10 k classic interval start.

On the women’s side, Comeau stopped the clock at 26:36.1, collecting her first medal at these Games. After losing Monday’s 7.5 k classic interval start by less than a second, Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Quebec, edged Maya MacIsaac-Jones, of Athabasca, Alberta, by one tenth of a second, for second place (+21.2). Stewart-Jones collected her third silver medal at these Games. Annah Hanthorn, of Yukon, winner of Monday’s 7.5 k classic interval start, missed the podium by two tenths of a second.

Saturday marks the last day of racing with the traditional relays.

Mass start results: Men’s 15 k freestyle / Women’s 10 k freestyle 

– François Léger Dionne

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Colin Ferrie, of Kimberley, British Columbia, and Jenn Jackson, of Mihurst, Ontario, both came out on top in Tuesday’s classic sprints, on the second day of cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia.

At the Otway Nordic Centre, Ferrie took the gold on the 1.5-kilometer course in 3:29.57, edging Scott Hill, of Toronto, Ontario, in second (+0.13) and Simon Lapointe, of Gatineau, Quebec in third (+0.76).

With her winning time of 3:50.97, Jackson, also the fastest in qualification, topped Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Quebec, by 1.90 second, and Marie Corriveau, of Quebec, Quebec, in third (+2.66), in the women’s 1.4 k classic sprint.

Results: Men’s 1.5 k sprint | Women’s 1.4 k sprint

– François Léger Dionne

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On Friday, Feb. 20, the biathlon races at Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia, ended with the traditional relays at the Otway Nordic Centre.

On in men’s 3 x 7.5-kilometer relay, the province of Quebec took gold, ahead of Alberta and Ontario. Félix Bérubé-Larochelle, of Lac-Mégantic, Zachari Bolduc, of Laval, and Teo Sanchez, of Wakefield, combined for the win in 1:04:25. Fifty-five seconds behind were Alberta skiers Jakob Chambers, Adam Runnalls and Ben Churchill, of Calgary. Ontario’s third-place finishers Jason Richard Lawton, of Orleans, Toby Quinn, of Thunder Bay, and Alexandre Dupuis, of Ottawa, finished 2:07 back from the winners.

In the women’s 3 x 6 k relay, British Columbia was victorious over Quebec and Alberta. Tekarra Elissa Banser, of West Kelowna, Claire Agnes Lapointe, of Pince George, and Emily Maria Dickson, of Burns Lake, triumphed on home soil with a time of 1:00:06. Quebec’s Charlotte Hamel, of Sherbrooke, and sisters Sarah Poisson-Grégoire and Anabelle Poisson-Grégoire, of Lac-Mégantic, finished two minutes behind. Alberta’s Kristen Chicoine, Darya Sepandj and Kendall Amy Chong, of Calgary, raced to bronze 3:05 behind the winners.

Relay results: Men’s 3 x 7.5 k | Women’s 3 x 6 k | Photos (courtesy of Daniel Guay, Lake Superior Biathlon team coach)

Complete biathlon results

***

Monday marked the kickoff for cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games. Knute Johnsgaard and Annah Hanthorn, both of Yukon, notched victories in the men’s and women’s 10- and 7.5-kilometer classic interval starts at the Otway Nordic Centre.

Johnsgaard’s winning time of 25:48.1 was followed by Scott Hill, of Toronto, Ontario, who came in second place (+29.5), 5.3 seconds ahead of Raphaël Couturier, of St-Jean-Chrysostome, Quebec, in third.

Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Quebec, came close to winning the event, finishing seven-tenths of a second off Hanthorn’s winning time of 22:33.10. Kendra Murray, of Whitehorse, Yukon,  placed third, 14.5 seconds back from Jones.

Results: Men’s 10 k classic | Women’s 7.5 k classic 

Complete cross-country results

– François Léger Dionne

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Matthew Hudec, of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and Leilani Tam Von Burg, of Ottawa, Ontario, notched victories on Tuesday in the men’s and women’s 10- and 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprints, respectively, on the second day of biathlon at the Canada Winter Games  in Prince George, British Columbia.

For Tam Von Burg, it was her second win in as many races so far at the 2015 Games.

The next day, Alexandre Dupuis, of Ottawa, and Emily Maria Dickson, of Burns Lake, B.C., started second and rose to first in the men’s 12.5 k and women’s 10 k pursuits.

At the Otway Nordic Centre on Tuesday, Hudec topped Dupuis by 24.5 seconds and Jules Bernotte, of Sherbrook, Quebec, in third (+34.8) for the men’s sprint win in 26:18.8.

The next day, Dupuis won the men’s pursuit by 18.9 seconds over Hudec in 35:45.4. Just 0.9 seconds back from Hudec, Teo Sanchez, of Wakefield, Quebec, placed third.

Tam Von Burg collected a 55-second victory in the women’s sprint over Dickson, while Nadia Moser, of Whitehorse, Yukon, was 1:01.7 back in third.

On Wednesday, Dickson went on to edge Tam Von Burg by 0.8 seconds in the women’s pursuit, and Moser once again rounded out the podium in third (+1:20.6).

Tuesday’s sprint results: Men | Women

Wednesday’s pursuit results: Men | Women

Photo galleries: Tuesday’s sprint & Wednesday’s pursuit (courtesy of Daniel Guay, Lake Superior Biathlon team coach)

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Emily Nishikawa winning the women's 15 k classic mass start by nearly a minute and three seconds on Sunday at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

Emily Nishikawa winning the women’s 15 k classic mass start by nearly a minute and three seconds on Sunday at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

Note: This recap has been updated to include the correct time back and note Jenn Jackson’s crash in the women’s A-final.

Kevin Sandau and Emily Nishikawa racked up two more wins apiece this season at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships this past weekend in Gatineau, Quebec.

Sandau and Nishikawa, both Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and Canadian National Development Team (NST-Dev.) skiers, swept the men’s and women’s distance races, respectively, on Saturday and Sunday at Nakkertok Nordic.

Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) on his way to winning the men's 1.5 k freestyle sprint on the first day of Eastern Canadian Championships on Jan. 30 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

NorAm leader Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) on his way to winning the men’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint on the first day of Eastern Canadian Championships on Jan. 30 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

On Friday, Jan. 30, Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) won the men’s 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint and Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST-Dev.) topped the women’s 1.4 k sprint in soft, deep snow after about 10 centimeters (4 inches) fell the night before.

Somppi went on to place second in Saturday’s 15 k freestyle and third in the 10 k classic mass start. He qualified for the sprint in sixth, 2.59 seconds behind the top men’s qualifier Sébastien Boehmler-Dandurand of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH), the fastest in the fresh snow in 3:58.81.

“The sprint race was tough with soft conditions after a fresh snowfall on Thursday,” Somppi explained in an email. “The qualifier in particular was very soft on the big climb, which you do twice on the sprint course at Nakkertok. My legs felt a little heavy in the qualifier when I tried to really go and I was worried how I would feel in the heats.”

In the quarterfinals, Boehmler-Dandurand topped Colin Abbott (Yukon Elite Squad), and Somppi  edged Evan Palmer-Charrette (Thunder Bay NDC), and all four advanced to the semifinals with eight others.

There, Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) topped Somppi by 0.18 seconds, and both advanced to the A-final, along with the second semifinal winner, Andy Shields (NDC), and Sandau as the runner-up. Lucky losers with fast-enough times from the first semifinal, Boehmler-Dandurand and Julien Locke (Black Jack) moved on as well.

Somppi explained he raced strategically in the final, getting out to a strong start and taking the lead.

“Leading was good to avoid crashes or broken poles as the course was a little difficult to pass on, especially in the softer snow,” he wrote. “However there was a headwind on parts of the course and it was easy to blow your legs out leading so I kept the pace controlled and everyone else seemed pretty content with that for the first half of the race.”

Shields attacked the second time up the big climb, he explained.

“I was able to stick right on him, get his draft on the downhill and slingshot by him into the finish,” Somppi added. “I felt strong in the finish, but it was certainly a tactical win for me.”

Somppi won by 0.5 seconds in 4:07.10. Shields, his former teammate at Lappe Nordic, was second, and Sandau took third (+2.2). Kennedy placed fourth (+4.0), Boehmler-Dandurand was fifth (+8.98), and Locke was sixth (+14.85).

“I was delighted to see how soft the tracks were when I arrived in the morning because I knew it played to my advantage,” Shields wrote in an email. “The snow was very broken up on the climb which meant we had to pace things pretty conservatively on the first climb. But on the second time up the hill, it was really fun to blast away from the pack if I could.

“Somppi managed to cover my move on the last climb and worked the draft coming downhill into the final straight,” he added. “I was pretty happy with my first NorAm podium in two years and our Lappe 1-2.”

In the women’s 1.4 k sprint, Widmer topped the qualifier by 8.73 seconds in 4:22.95. Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) qualified second, and Jennifer Jackson (NDC) posted the third-fastest time.

Widmer went on to win her quarterfinal and semifinal before rocking the A-final as well, beating out Dupont by 0.75 seconds in 4:07.11. Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) placed third, 10.72 seconds back, Kendra Murray (Carleton University) was fourth (+11.28), Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) fifth (+17.66), and Jackson finished sixth (+2:21.78) after a crash.

“The steep climbs had a lot of deep, soft snow to navigate,” Widmer wrote in an email. “It wasn’t the prettiest skiing I’ve ever done, but it did the trick. … I skied from the front for my quarter and semi final. In the final, Jen Jackson had a brilliant start and I tucked in behind her and Andrea Dupont. On the first time up the steep hill I pulled behind and passed them. I just went from there and didn’t look back.”

On Saturday, Widmer placed second in the 10 k freestyle individual start, 4.7 seconds behind Nishikawa, who won it in 30:15.8. Widmer started 1:15 behind Nishikawa and explained she started getting splits off her around 7 k, at which point she heard she was 20 seconds down.

“It is always extra motivation to push harder,” Widmer wrote. “Maintaining speed through the transitions was my main goal for today. There was quite a bit of navigating to do with so many racers on course at 15 second intervals. My distance racing usually means a really fast fast lap and hanging on to that pace as long as possible. I tried a different strategy today and it worked well. I’m glad that I had a decent distance day today because I’ve been struggling this season.”

After skipping the sprint, Nishikawa was pleased with her weekend and explained she felt better after Sunday’s 10 k classic mass start win than on Saturday.

“I have been training hard for World Champs, and haven’t done much hard intensity prior to Saturday’s race so I felt a little flat.  But today I felt much better,” Nishikawa wrote after winning the mass start by more than a minute. “I am really excited to get over to Europe and get back racing on the World Cup.”

While she won Saturday’s 10 k skate by nearly five seconds, Nishikawa was almost a minute and a half faster than Dupont in third (+1:28). Brittany Webster (AWCA) placed fourth (+1:45.4), and Murray was fifth (+2:29).

2015 Eastern Canadian Championships podiums:

Friday, Jan. 30:
- Men’s 1.5 k skate sprint:
1. Somppi, 2. Shields, 3. Sandau
- Women’s 1.4 k skate sprint:
1. Widmer, 2. Dupont, 3. MacLean

Saturday, Jan. 31: 

- Men’s 15 k skate interval start:
1. Sandau, 2. Somppi, 3. Carlyle
- Women’s 10 k skate interval start:
1. Nishikawa, 2. Widmer, 3. Dupont

Sunday, Feb. 1:

- Men’s 15 k classic mass start:
1. Sandau, 2. Shields, 3. Somppi
- Women’s 10 k classic mass start:
1. Nishikawa, 2. Murray, 3. Webster

The next day, Nishikawa won in 31:29.1, 1:02.56 faster than Murray in second. Webster was third (+1:04.57) after skiing in the top four throughout the race. Hicks placed fourth (+1:04.68) and Dupont was fifth (+1:25.23).

In an email, Webster explained that her podium on Sunday was her first classic race of the year after recovering from a stress fracture in her leg.

“I have only JUST begun to classic ski again,” she wrote. “My first workout was last week, and this race was the first time I have classic skied without any pain!!! YES!

“The week boasted sub-par results for me, but honestly, I really felt like I ‘won’ my races out on the course,” Webster added. “Trailblazer coach Rick Dickey told me something I will never forget, and that is to make a race plan, and execute 100%. If you did that, you won your race. That’s what I did! My body felt great this weekend, I just need some more miles in my race legs. It will come, and I think it will come fast.”

Sandau won the Saturday’s 15 k skate by 15.2 seconds over Somppi (in 38:18.9) and Sunday’s 15 k classic mass start by 24.24 seconds ahead of Shields (in 41:20.67).

After starting near the back of the 125-man pack, Sandau led the interval start from start to finish.

“The trails are a bit flatter for my liking in Nakkertok but today I felt like I could push the flat sections and stay aggressive,” he wrote on Saturday. “A lot of the race just felt fast paced and high tempo for me, I could keep the RPM’s high and really hurt the body but still have good speed over the tops.”

He shared Saturday’s podium with two AWCA teammates, Somppi in second and Jack Carlyle, who was 1:05.5 back in third. Shields placed fourth (+1:22), and Kennedy was fifth (+1:34.6).

On Sunday, Sandau followed Abbott closely in second on the first of four laps, then led each loop thereafter, posting lap times that were consistently within four seconds of one another. With one lap to go, Shields as his closest challenger was 16.42 seconds behind.

“Because the race got shortened to a 15km from a 20km due to a he cold, I figured there wasn’t any time to play games and have some slow paced sections out there, so I tried to push all the climbing sections and keep the flats quick,” Sandau wrote on Sunday. “I skied to the front at about 2.5km and just kept the pressure on for the remainder to try to open the gaps up a bit. If it came to a sprint finish at the end I wasn’t going to fare well against the other guys in that.”

Shields finished second and explained he was “very happy” with his second podium of the long weekend.

“Things got tactical within the chase pack, but I made a very decisive move on the second last climb to claim second place,” Shields wrote. “Overall the weekend was exactly what I needed at this point in the year. I’m waiting to hear if I will be selected for a B-tour trip in the Baltic States which leaves Canada on Feb. 9th.”

Somppi was 32 seconds back in third for his third-straight podium of the weekend. Kennedy placed fourth (+35.53), and Bob Thompson (NDC) was another second back in fifth (+36.78).

“I was in a good position in second skiing behind Kevin on the first lap when unfortunately I took a crash and lost some positions and time,” Somppi explained.  “I worked hard to get back to the group but just didn’t have it in me today to stick with Kevin. Happy I was able to finish on the podium. It was a mental battle skiing with a tired body today. Great to share the podium with teammates and my roommate.”

Results: 

Friday: Men’s 1.5 k skate sprint | Women’s 1.4 k skate sprint

Saturday: Men’s 15 k skate | Women’s 10 k skate

Sunday: Men’s 15 k classic mass start | Women’s 10 k classic mass start

— Gerry Furseth contributed reporting

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Jennie Bender (BSF) skis into the finish of the 1.25 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt.

Jennie Bender (BSF) skis into the finish of the 1.25 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt. She won the SuperTour race by over a second. (Photo: Jon Lazenby)

Note: This post was updated with athlete quotes. 

Bridger Ski Foundation’s Jennie Bender came out on top in Sunday’s 1.25-kilometer classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt. After qualifying in the top position earlier in the day, Bender won the first SuperTour sprint since the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships with a final time of 3:26.26. Bender took control of the final from the start of the gun to easily cross the finish line in first.

Bender,   a Vermont native, wrote she was happy with her performance in the race given her feelings surrounding the 20 k earlier this weekend.

“I wasn’t sure how I would feel out there today, since Friday’s 20k for me played out like a flight leaving Houghton; it just didn’t happen. But a little Hometown sprint racing was fun, and I’m looking forward to next weekend,” Bender wrote in an email. 

She was followed by Liz Guiney of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP), who trailed the winning time by 1.02 seconds. In a close third was Far West Elite’s Anja Gruber, 1.19 seconds back.

In the final, Guiney was able to tuck in behind Bender and Gruber throughout much of the course. By the time the women reached the stadium, it was battle for second between her, Gruber, and Stratton Mountain T2’s Erika Flowers.

“We had a bit of a double pole drag race between myself, Anja, and Erika Flowers for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I was just happy to have enough in the tank at the end,” Guiney wrote in a post-race email. “It was a really fun day, great to ski on our home course and have cheering support from Outdoor Center employees and the Green Racing Project rowers.”

Due to the small field Gruber said she decided to ski conservatively early on so that she could perform in the final. In the end, it paid off as she held onto a podium position in the final sprint.

“I know I don’t have the most speed, so finish sprints are never really my favorite – but today I was pretty happy to edge out Erika on the last meters and miss second place just by a little bit,” she wrote in an email.

Rounding out the final were Flowers (+1.48), Dartmouth’s Corey Stock (+5.23), and CGRP rower Emily Dreissigacker (+18.68).

The men's final in the SuperTour 1.5 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt.

The men’s final in the SuperTour 1.5 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt. (Photo: Jon Lazenby)

In the men’s race Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess of the Bend Endurance Academy bested the men’s field in the 1.5 k classic sprint. Blackhorse-von Jess was the top qualifier and retained his position with a time of 3:21.36 in the final. However, his win was by a slim margin as the top-four finishers clocked times within half-a-second of each other. Second place went to Kris Freeman of Freebird, who finished 0.28 seconds back from the winning time. In third was Alaska Pacific University’s Tyler Kornfield, 0.39 off pace. Fourth went to APU teammate Reese Hanneman (+0.49).

Blackhorse-von Jess, skied much of the final behind Freeman who took the lead from the start. The Bend Endurance Academy skier tried to pass Freeman one the course’s major climb, but was unable to get by the Freebird skier until the final meters.

“In the final Kris was pretty motivated to lead from the front in the final, so after I tried to pass him on the signature climb and couldn’t make it go (my legs were tired from the 30k!) so I tucked in behind him and then found the go to take it to the line,” he wrote. 

Also in the final were University of Vermont’s Cole Morgan (+4.57) and APU’s Eric Packer (+9.41).

According to competitors, conditions were near-perfect in northern Vermont and they are happy to return to Craftsbury next weekend for three more SuperTour races.

“The conditions were cold but perfect. It was about zero degrees but no wind and a warm sun. Craftsbury set great, firm tracks,” Freeman said. He will use next weekend’s races as preparation for the upcoming World Championships in Falun, Sweden.

Blackhorse-v0n Jess on the other hand will not return to Craftsbury next weekend to get ready for the Östersund, Sweden World Cup.

SuperTour racing continues in Craftsbury Feb. 6 with a freestyle sprint. 

Results: MenWomen

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Photos from the opening day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt., with the women’s 20- and men’s 30-kilometer classic mass starts at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. All photos by John Lazenby/lazenbyphoto.com.

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Kris Freeman (second from r) topped the podium on Friday on the first day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt. Freeman edged Eric Packer (third from right) by 0.1 seconds for the 30 k classic mass start win. Reese Hanneman (r) rounded out the podium in third. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess was fourth, David Norris fifth, and Lex Treinen sixth to give APU four of the top six.  (Photo: Bend Endurance Academy/Facebook)

Kris Freeman (second from r) topped the podium on Friday on the first day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt. Freeman edged APU’s Eric Packer (third from right) by 0.1 seconds for the 30 k classic mass start win. Another APU skier, Reese Hanneman (r) rounded out the podium in third. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (BEA) was fourth, David Norris (APU) placed fifth, and Lex Treinen (APU) was sixth to give APU four of the top six. (Photo: Bend Endurance Academy/Facebook)

By Colin Gaiser

Kris Freeman (Freebird) had the finishing speed to hold off Alaska Pacific University’s Eric Packer and Reese Hanneman in the men’s SuperTour 30-kilometer classic mass start on Friday at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vt.

Freeman won in a time of 1:23:32.9, while Packer came in just 0.1 seconds behind and Hanneman finished 5.7 seconds back to lock up third place. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) was fourth (+7.5) and David Norris (APU) rounded out the top five (+8.9).

In the women’s 20 k, which had just 14 finishers, Caitlin Patterson of the local Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) led a tight pack of skiers at the finish and won in 1:05:48.8. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) was 2.9 seconds back, and Anja Gruber (Far West Elite Team) took the final spot on the podium (+4.3).

Erika Flowers (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) was right behind in fourth (+5.2), Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) took fifth (+6.0), and Rosie Frankowski (APU) finished in sixth (+7.3) in the back of the lead pack.

Freeman wrote in an email that the men’s race remained tight with about 10 k to go, compelling him to increase the pace at the start of the final 10 k lap. He led during the lap’s most significant climb, though Packer was right beside him at the top. The pack of Freeman, Blackhorse-von Jess, and the three APU skiers then reformed in the long following descent.

“With the group back together it was cat-and-mouse on some rolling terrain until we got to a large hill with 1 k to go,” Freeman wrote.

Freeman wrote that he mounted his final attack about a kilometer from the finish.

“Reese, Dakota, and Eric were right on me when I went but only Eric stuck with me. I had a few seconds on him with 100 m to go and I eased up a bit so it was close but not as close as the time indicates. There was no lunge to the line,” Freeman explained.

Packer wrote in an email, “I was hoping to use my double pole finish to catch [Freeman], and almost did, but I ran out of track and he edged me to the line. He was the stronger skier today.”

However, Packer explained that he was “incredibly happy” with his result and his body felt strong throughout the race.

Hanneman wrote that the fresh snow on the course made it a very tactical race where multiple racers took turns in the front of the pack.

“I was feeling pretty strong, and had more of a punchy style where I was able to do a couple really aggressive attacks where I could gap the field in a short amount of time,” Hanneman explained.

However, after Freeman began his attack and picked up the pace during the final lap, it became a race to keep up with him — and only Packer was able to challenge him down the final stretch.

In the women’s race, Patterson — winning on her 25th birthday — wrote in an email that she stayed out of the lead and decided to conserve her energy throughout the race, but stayed within the main pack of eight skiers.

“I dug deep to stay with them, knowing that if someone could make a break for it at the top of that big hill and get over the other side ahead, it might be the decisive move,” she explained. “No one really went for it, although the pace was definitely kicking up, but the pack came back together mostly on the downhill and rolling section.”

Patterson explained she was in fourth while taking the final sharp curve about 400 meters before the finish, but her momentum carried her past the skiers in the left, inside track. After establishing some breathing room, she switched to the other track and managed to out-double pole the pack on the final, downhill 100-meter stretch.

Because the finish was so close, Patterson wrote that it “came down to how much energy and speed we could muster for that last 400 m, with a little bit of luck and good positioning playing into the mix as well.”

SuperTour racing continues in Craftsbury on Sunday with classic sprints. The Craftsbury Marathon will take place Saturday.

Results: Men’s 30 k | Women’s 20 k

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(Cross Country Canada press release)

Larry Sinclair, a founding member of Highlands Trailblazers Ski Club in Duntroon, Ontario, passed away on Monday after battling cancer. (Photo: CCC)

Larry Sinclair, a founding member of Highlands Trailblazers Ski Club in Duntroon, Ontario, passed away on Monday after battling cancer. (Photo: CCC)

Larry Sinclair

It is with great sadness that Cross Country Ontario and Cross Country Canada announce the passing of Larry Sinclair. As a young man, Larry competed both at the provincial and national level. The Sinclair family name was synonymous with cross country skiing in Collingwood. Larry’s dad, Jim was very involved as a coach and in sport development and Larry’s brother Shawn and sister Shelly have always been and still are heavily involved in officiating and management in the sport.

In the late ’70s and ’80s, Larry turned his focus from competing to coaching. Larry started out as the coach of a successful University of Guelph ski team introducing the sport to many and developing lasting friendships, through his quiet and humble enthusiasm and passion for excellence.

His interest in university sport was always strong and he led the first Canadian team to the World University Games, 1989 in Sofia, Bulgaria. He was also an innovator, leading several junior, provincial team trips to Europe to help young athletes gain valuable international experiences. Future National Team members such as Al Pilcher and Darren Derochie and others really benefitted from this experience.

Larry was a wax technician with the Canadian team at the 1988 Calgary Olympics and also assisted on other National Team assignments. In Canada, Larry led Southern Ontario and Ontario for many years as Head Coach and is a past recipient of the Heinz Niederhauser Coaching Award for excellence in coaching. It was fitting as Heinz was one of Larry’s important mentors, as he grew up as an athlete and coach.

Larry was instrumental in the development of the sport as an independent entity in Ontario. CCO was formed allowing it to directly access provincial funding moving it away from a bureaucratic model where funding was filtered through the alpine dominated Provincial Ski Association and the Ontario Ski Council.

In the ’90s, Larry turned more of his attention to the coaching of coaches and administration and as a course conductor was a key figure in nurturing the development of many young coaches. Many of those he worked with went on to be coaches and course conductors themselves, positively affecting the lives of many more coaches and athletes.

Larry was always actively interested in the equipment aspects of the sport, his “museum” collection of old Fischer racing skis and his work with Ski Trax on equipment reviews were among his more personal interests. He was the SkiTrax Buyer’s Guide editor for over a decade dating back to the first guide launched in October 1991. He oversaw the transition to a North American guide in 1995 and travelled to Scandinavia in 1999 visiting a half a dozen companies for the Factory Tour series.

Benjamin Sadavoy, Ski Trax editor and publisher described Larry as “a true pioneer and a legendary soul that was quick to laugh. We couldn’t have done it without him. SkiTrax joins the ski community in sending condolences to his family and friends.”

As the founding member of the Highlands Trailblazers Ski Club, Larry has mentored athletes and coaches to great achievements and inspired many young athletes to pursue racing. You also always knew that Larry would be able to find a place for you to stay the night when you were passing through the area. “Larry`s Farmhouse” has always been one of the key overnight stops for the avid racer and developing coach.

The Highlands Nordic facility has developed into one of the finest, all privately funded, cross country facilities in the country and has hosted multiple Ontario Cups, OFSAA Championships, and the Canadian National Championships. It was a family operation with any profits in a volatile, weather related business, going back into the further development of the facility itself.

Most recently, the facility hosted the World Junior/U23 Trials where some of us were fortunate to have a last visit with Larry. Being able to see the quality and quantity of racers competing at the event and meeting old friends, gave Larry great pleasure over the weekend.

Larry was inducted into the Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame as a builder in November 2014. He brought his passion for skiing to his latest role as Cross Country Ontario High Performance Chair where again his love of coaching was demonstrated.

The ski community has lost a great champion of racing and athlete development and builder of the sport. He was a kind and generous person, always willing to help out and get the job done. Our sincerest condolences to his wife Pat, daughters Kelly and Megan, and the Sinclair family as we all mourn their loss.

Funeral arrangements will be announced as they become available. A celebration of Larry’s life will be planned for the spring.

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