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Ammar and Babikov take National Titles in 30/50 k Classic Race at Canadian Nationals

Blowey and Klister, the Canadian Nationals and Cross Country Canada’s mascots, respectively, hang out on the final day of Canadian Nationals. (Photo: Kevin Sandau/Twitter)

Amanda Ammar of Team Ninja and Ivan Babikov of the Alberta World Cup Academy and National Team (AWCA-NST) skied to resounding wins Saturday in the final race of Canadian Nationals on the Blow Me Down trails in Newfoundland.

In the 30 k mass start classic race, Ammar dueled it out with Emily Nishikawa (AWCA-NST) for much of the race before throwing the hammer down in the final lap to win by 55 seconds. The two racers created a huge gap on the rest of the field. Chisa Obayashi of Japan was the third place finisher, 4:51 back.

On the men’s side, Ivan Babikov (NST) took home top honors in the 50 k race.  After skiing in the pack for much of the race, Babikov surged ahead of the rest of the field in the sixth of seven laps.  He held onto that lead and finished with a 42 second lead on the other racers. Kevin Sandau (AWCA-NST) snagged second place, while Graham Nishikawa (AWCA-NST), recently returned from guiding at the Paralympics, placed third, 53 seconds back.

Aggregate results (the overall standings for Canadian Nationals) have yet to be announced.

Women’s Results

Men’s Results

Emily Nishikawa, Cockney Win Canadian Nationals 5/10 k Classic

The women's 5 k classic interval start podium on Sunday at Canadian Nationals with winner Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST), Dasha Gaiazova (NST) in second and Amanda Ammar (Team Ninja) in third. (Photo: Cross Country Canada/

The women’s 5 k classic interval start podium on Sunday at Canadian Nationals with winner Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST), Dasha Gaiazova (NST) in second and Amanda Ammar (Team Ninja) in third. (Photo: Cross Country Canada/Twitter)

Emily Nishikawa and Jesse Cockney snagged the top spots in today’s 5/10 k interval start classic races at Canadian Nationals at Blow Me Down Trails in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

Nishikawa, of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and National Senior Development Team (NST), just narrowly pulled off the win over fellow 2014 Olympian and World Cup Team member Dasha Gaiazova, winning by 1.6 seconds.  Amanda Ammar of Team Ninja, who also competed in Sochi, was third, 27 seconds back. Today’s race saw five out of the seven members of the women’s Olympic team race. All five finished in the top six.

On the men’s side, Olympian Cockney (AWCA-NST) squeezed out the win by 1.1 seconds over Kevin Sandau (AWCA-NST). Knute Johnsgaard of Yukon Elite finished third, 10 seconds back.

Racing will continue Tuesday with a 10/15 k freestyle interval start race.

Women’s Results

Men’s Results

Event Website

The men's 10 k classic interval start podium at Canadian Nationals in Corner Brook, Newfondland: with winner Jesse Cockney (AWCA/NST), Kevin Sandau (AWCA/NST) in second, and Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad) in third. (Photo: Cross Country Canada/Twitter)

The men’s 10 k classic interval start podium at Canadian Nationals in Corner Brook, Newfondland: with winner Jesse Cockney (AWCA/NST), Kevin Sandau (AWCA/NST) in second, and Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad) in third. (Photo: Cross Country Canada/Twitter)

Classic Team Sprints Kick Off Canadian Nationals

Day 1 of Canadian Nationals at the Blow Me Down ski club in Newfoundland.

Day 1 of Canadian Nationals at the Blow Me Down ski club in Newfoundland. (Photo: Blow Me Down Trails/Twitter

The 2014 Canadian Nationals are officially underway with the kick-off classic-team sprints, which took place Saturday morning.

Racing on the Blow Me Down Trails in Corner Brook Newfoundland, Kevin Sandau and Olympian Jesse Cockney, both of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and National Senior Development Team (NST) edged out Russell Kennedy (AWCA) and Phil Widmer (AWCA-NST) by 0.8 seconds for the win.  The Whitehorse duo of Colin Abbott and Knute Johnsgaard were also close, just 1.3 seconds back.

On the women’s side, Dahria Beatty (AWCA) and Olympian Emily Nishikawa (AWCA-NST) blew open the race with a stunning 20 second gap on the rest of the field. Marlis Kromm (AWCA) and Olympian Heidi Widmer (AWCA-NST) finished in second, while Whitehorse skiers Annah Hanthorn and Kendra Murray had a strong race to snag the third spot on the podium.

Racing will continue Sunday with a 5/10 k classic interval start race.

For more info, visit

Canadian Nationals: Gruber Tops Kocher in Women’s 30 k

WHISTLER, B.C. — After finishing second in Thursday’s classic sprint to Canadian Dasha Gaiazova, Swiss National Team skier Bettina Gruber took the big prize at Canadian Nationals on Saturday, winning the women’s 30 k freestyle mass start in 1:18:41.1.

National-team biathlete Zina Kocher was the top Canadian in second, 40.3 seconds back. Heidi Widmer of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) was second Canadian and third overall (+59). Brittany Webster (Highlands Trailblazers) placed fourth and Chisa Obayashi of Japan was fifth. Gaiazova did not race.


Canadian Nationals: Koos Edges McMurtry in 50 k Freestyle Mass Start

WHISTLER, B.C. — American Torin Koos outlasted his competitors on the last day of Canadian Nationals at Whistler Olympic Park on Saturday, winning the men’s seven-lap 50 k freestyle mass start by 0.4 seconds over Brent McMurtry of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA).

Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) completed the course in 2:04.55.2, and McMurtry was the first Canadian and second overall in reportedly his last race as a full-time skier. Kevin Sandau (AWCA) was the second Canadian in third (+1.7), and Brian McKeever of Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team placed fourth (+2.1).


Canadian Nationals: Gaiazova Rolls to Second-Straight Title, Valjas Tops Men’s Sprint

WHISTLER, B.C. — Fresh off a four-month stint on the World Cup, Dasha Gaiazova racked up her second-consecutive victory in as many races at Canadian Nationals on Thursday in the women’s 1.4-kilometre classic sprint at Whistler Olympic Park.

The fastest qualifier by 4.83 seconds over Canadian World Cup teammate Perianne Jones, Gaiazova rose to first in the A-final ahead of Switzerland’s Bettina Gruber in second and Jones in third. Alysson Marshall of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) was the third Canadian in fourth overall, and the Academy rounded out the rest of the A-final with Marlis Kromm in fifth and Heidi Widmer in sixth.

In the men’s 1.6 k classic sprint, Canadian World Cup Team member Lenny Valjas came out in his first race back from Europe to win the qualifier by 4.92 seconds over American Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol).

Valjas went on to dominate the A-final, beating AWCA athletes Graham Nishikawa and Phil Widmer, who were second and third, respectively. Also from the Academy, Jess Cockney was fourth, Norway’s Rune Ødegård (University of Colorado-Boulder) finished fifth, and Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Team) was sixth.


Final results: women | men

Qualifiers: women | men


Canadian Nationals: McMurtry, Gaiazova Tally Classic Interval Start Wins

WHISTER, B.C. — Brent McMurtry of the Alberta World Cup Academy notched his second victory in three races at Canadian Nationals, winning Tuesday’s 15-kilometre classic interval start in 41:26.9 minutes, 22.8 seconds ahead of Norwegian Rune Ødegård (University of Colorado).

David Greer of the Yukon Elite Team was the second Canadian and third overall (+44.3) and Graham Nishikawa (AWCA) was fourth (+53.3).

In the women’s 10 k classic interval start, Canadian World Cup Team member Dasha Gaiazova romped the field by nearly 1 1/2 minutes in 34:04, beating Japan’s Chisa Obayashi by 1:23.4.

Gaiazova’s teammate Perianne Jones was third overall (+1:35.2) and Alysson Marshall (AWCA) was the third Canadian in fourth (+1:42.5).

Results: men | women

Gregg Tallies 5 k Victory at Canadian Nationals; Widmer Notches Second-Straight Title

American Caitlin Gregg of Central Cross Country (CXC) put down the fastest time of 12:02.8 in Sunday’s 5-kilometer freestyle interval start at Canadian Nationals to take the overall victory in Whistler, B.C., beating University of Colorado-Boulder senior Eliska Hajkova by 10.9 seconds.

After Hajkova, a Czech Republic native, Heidi Widmer of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) was the top Canadian in third, 22.4 seconds behind Gregg. For Widmer, it was her second-straight national title in as many days of racing at the 2013 championships after she and Marlis Kromm (AWCA) took the team sprint title for their club, Foothills Nordic.

Nakkertok’s Alana Thomas was the second Canadian in fourth overall (+32.7), edging Alysson Marshall (AWCA) by 1.7 seconds. Marshall was the third Canadian in fifth.


McKeever Continues Unbeaten Streak, Winning 10 k Free for First National Title

Brian McKeever after winning his first national title in Saturday’s 10 k freestyle interval start at 2013 Canadian Nationals in Whister, B.C.

Coming off a perfect season on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup, including a sweep of World Cup Finals in Sochi, Russia, Brian McKeever rolled to another victory at home in Canada on Sunday.

The 33-year-old won the 10 k freestyle interval start on the first day of individual racing at Canadian Nationals in Whister, B.C. Visually impaired and competing on the IPC circuit with guide Erik Carleton, McKeever topped the men’s field on his own in 21:18.1. Graham Nishikawa of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) was 11.7 seconds back in second, and his teammate Graeme Killick placed third (+23.0).


Canadian Nationals: Cockney/Murtry Defend Title; Kromm/Widmer Run Away with Team Sprint Win

Phil Widmer of Canmore Nordic (l) leads Jess Cockney (Foothills) and Alex Mahoney (Rocky Mountain Racers) through Canada Corner at Whistler Olympic Park on Saturday during the freestyle team sprint semifinal at 2013 Canadian Nationals. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

WHISTLER, B.C. — Canadian Nationals at Whistler Olympic Park kicked off Saturday with the 2×3-kilometer freestyle team sprint in sunshine and fast tracks.

Marlis Kromm and Heidi Widmer took the women’s title for Foothills Nordic with a clear victory. Hardwood’s Mary Thompson and Erin Tribe took second over Michaela Howie and Zoe Roy of Rocky Mountain Racers.

The men’s event was tighter, with four teams arriving in the final straight together.  Phil Widmer led into the final 100 metres but crashed after tangling with Jess Cockney. In the end, Foothills Brent McMurty and Cockney defended their their team title, and Whitehorse took silver and bronze with David Greer and Knute Johnsgaard in second, and Colin Abbott and Graham Nishikawa in third. Canmore Nordic’s Russell Kennedy and Widmer took the wooden medal in fourth.

Results: women | men

Canadian Nationals Schedule

The road to 2013 Canadian Ski Nationals in Whistler, B.C. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

Today was the first official training day for Canadian Nationals at Whistler Olympic Park. The venue welcomed cross-country skiers with blue skies, fast snow and warm sunshine that didn’t soften the tracks.

Racing starts on Saturday and continues through the following Saturday.

Saturday: Freestyle team Sprint

Sunday: 5/10 k freestyle individual start

Tuesday: 10/15 k classic individual start

Wednesday: 1.4 k classic sprints (younger athletes)

Thursday: 1.6 k classic sprints (open & older juniors)

Saturday, March 30: 20/30 k freestyle mass start

Over 600 athletes are registered. In addition to the expected Canadians, there are a sprinkling of Americans, Norwegians, and biathletes (who stuck around after Canadian Biathlon Nationals ended on Wednesday).

Virtually all of the top Canadians are registered. Lenny Valjas, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Ivan Babikov, Michael Somppi, Dasha Gaizova and Emily Nishikawa are in Falun through Sunday for the World Cup Finals with most expected to race in Whistler on Tuesday. Perianne Jones will also be there, Kershaw and Harvey will be skipping Nationals (Kershaw might be attending as a spectator), and Babikov will make a decision after Sunday’s pursuit.

A final decision hasn’t been made, but it is likely that will have live timing on race days.

Canadian Nationals Video

Here is a great video of Canadian Nationals by Zacharie Turgeon of the Skinouk Ski Club. Worth a watch.

Championnats canadiens 2012 from Zacharie Turgeon on Vimeo.

Canadian Nationals: Crawford Locks Up 30 k Classic Title

After skiing with the same three women throughout Saturday’s 30 k classic mass start at Canadian Ski Nationals, Chandra Crawford broke away early in the last lap to win in 1:36:51.66.

She was 13.74 seconds ahead of runner-up Britt Ingunn Nydal of Norway. Nydal’s teammate, Ragnhild Haga was third (+54.42). Dasha Gaiazova placed fourth and Perianne Jones was fifth.


Canadian Nationals: Harvey, Kershaw Break Away in 50k, Finish Together

Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey broke away from the pack on lap 4 of 10 in the 50 k classic mass start at Canadian Ski Nationals and finished together with the same time (2:15:45.95) about 2 1/2 minutes in front of Ivan Babikov in third.

Kershaw and Harvey snowplowed before the line with their arms around each other’s shoulders to finish in what officials ruled as a tie.


Canadian Nationals: Harvey Rolls to Sprint Victory

MONT SAINTE-ANNE, Québec — Alex Harvey of the Canadian National Ski Team and Mont Sainte-Anne’s Club Nordique won his second straight race at Canadian Ski Nationals on Thursday, edging teammate Devon Kershaw in the A-final of the 1.4 k freestyle sprint.

From the qualifier to the heats, Harvey finished first and capped the day with a 0.17-second victory over Kershaw. Alberta World Cup Academy athlete Phil Widmer followed in third (+1.58) and Len Valjas (CNST) was fourth.

Also in the A-final, Baptiste Gros of France finished fifth and Sindre Bjornestad Skar (Norway) was sixth.

Freestyle sprint brackets/results (scroll down for senior men)


Canadian Nationals: Crawford Claims National Title in Skate Sprint

MONT SAINTE-ANNE, Québec — Two years after she won a national title in the freestyle sprint in Whitehorse, Chandra Crawford of the Canadian National Team dominated the event at Canadian Ski Nationals again, winning the 1.4 k skate sprint by more than a second on Thursday.

Crawford won the qualifier, quarterfinal and semifinal before topping teammate Dasha Gaiazova by 1.37 seconds in the A-final. American Jennie Bender (Central Cross Country) finished third (+2.44).

U.S. Ski Team member Ida Sargent was fourth, Britt Ingunn Nydal of Norway placed fifth and Alysson Marshall was sixth.

Freestyle sprint brackets and results

Canadian Nationals: Quotes from Top Sprint Qualifiers

MONT SAINTE-ANNE, Québec — A few of the top finishers in Thursday’s 1.4 k freestyle sprint talk about the qualifier and morning conditions on the newly salted trails at MSA.

(Note: The temperature at 11 a.m. was around 12 degrees Celsius/54 Fahrenheit and expected to reach a high of 19/66).

Alex Harvey, 1st in men’s qualifier:

On preparing for Thursday’s sprint:

“I had a really busy day yesterday. I was out in the sun all day doing a commercial [for] one of my sponsors, nasal spray … hydraSense.”

On the conditions at Mont Sainte-Anne:

“They did a really good job with the course. It was fast.”

On racing:

“I had the crowd again behind me so it was good. I started maybe a bit too hard; I was pretty dead in the end. The last little uphill I didn’t have much jam, but I think it was enough to hold off Phil [Widmer, 0.02 seconds behind in second].

On game plan before the heats Thursday afternoon:

“We’re going back to my house, dry our stuff and eat a little bit.”

Chandra Crawford, 1st in women’s qualifier:

On the firmer conditions:

“It really lifted my spirits to feel the fast snow under my feet.”

On recovering from a long trip back from Europe:

“The travel’s hard and the jet lag’s hard … but you just do it. You just wake up in the morning and get after it. Those things can affect you a ton or you can almost kind of act like it’s not [a problem].”

On advice:

“One thing Liz Stephen told me this winter was, ‘Don’t get out of bed until you’re ready to make it good.’ So I do that in the morning, set some intentions to deal well with life’s adversity, not so much plan the day but just go, and whatever happens out there I’m going to really respond well.”

On the significance of Thursday’s sprint:

“I’m excited. I love nationals, I love skate sprints, I love classic sprints. Yeah, going for it … everyone here is gunning for it.”

Sophie Caldwell, 2nd 

On ranking second amid Canadian National Team athletes in the qualifier:

“I was pretty surprised but it felt good. … I sat out the skate race earlier this week. I love sprinting, but we had two sprints at [U.S.] nationals and then one carnival with a sprint so I haven’t done much sprinting so I was excited.”

On the conditions:

“It’s pretty firm, actually. Some parts it’s kind of icy and some parts it’s got a soft layer on top, but it’s pretty fast.”

On the course:

“There’s probably the biggest hill in the beginning. There’s a lot of flat and another little hill at the end.”

Canadian Nationals: Crawford, Harvey Win 1.4 k Sprint Qualifiers

MONT SAINTE-ANNE, Québec — Canadian National Ski Team member Chandra Crawford and Alex Harvey put down the fastest qualifying times in their respective 1.4 k freestyle sprint qualifiers at Canadian Ski Nationals on Thursday.

Crawford won the open women’s qualifier in 3:17.75, nearly two seconds ahead of Sophie Caldwell (Dartmouth) in second. After Caldwell (+1.89), Perianne Jones was third (+4.82) and defending national sprint champion Dasha Gaiazova ranked fourth (+5.55).

In the men’s race, Harvey edged Phil Widmer (Alberta World Cup Academy) by two-hundreths of a second in 2:51.27. Sindre Bjornestad Skar of Norway was third (+0.11) and Jesse Cockney (AWCA) was fourth (+0.84).

Women’s Top 10

1. Chandra Crawford (CNST/Canmore)

2. Sophie Caldwell (Dartmouth College)

3. Perianne Jones (CNST/Nakkertok)

4. Dasha Gaiazova (CNST/RMR)

5. Ida Sargent (USST/CGRP)

6. Jennie Bender (CXC)

7. Rosanna Crawford (Biathlon Canada/Canmore)

8. Erin Tribe (Team Hardwood)

9. Maya MacIsaac-Jones (RMR)

10. Heidi Widmer (AWCA)

Other notables: 11. Alysson Marshall, 12. Ragnhild Haga (NOR), 13. Kate Brennan, 14. Hannah Dreissigacker, 15. Britt Ingunn Nydal (NOR) … 21. Andrea Dupont, 22. Amanda Ammar.

Women’s sprint qualifier results

Men’s Top 10

1. Alex Harvey (CNST/MSA)

2. Phil Widmer (AWCA)

3. Sindre Bjornestad Skar (NOR)

4. Jesse Cockney (AWCA/NST)

5. Drew Goldsack (AWCA/NST)

6. Devon Kershaw (CNST)

7. Baptiste Gros (FRA)

8. Renaud Jay (FRA)

9. Harry Seaton (NDC-Thunder Bay)

10. Graham Nishikawa (AWCA/NST)

Other notables: 12. Len Valjas, 13. Brent McMurtry, 14. Eric Packer, 15. Skyler Davis … 21. Roddy Darragon (FRA), 29. Ivan Babikov.

Men’s qualifier results


Canadian Nationals Skate Sprints Moved to MSA

Originally scheduled to be held on the Plaines of Abraham in downtown Quebec City, Thursday’s freestyle sprints at Canadian Ski Nationals have been moved to the trails at Mont Sainte-Anne.

The sprint course at MSA, where every other individual race has been and will be, will be 1.4 k as described in a coaches’ meeting Tuesday night. Senior racers can train on the course after 2 p.m. on Wednesday for the sprints, which begin at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.


Canadian Nationals: Nishikawa Nabs 10 k Freestyle Title

MONT SAINTE-ANNE, Québec — Emily Nishikawa of the Alberta World Cup Academy and Canadian Senior Development Team pulled out a 0.5-second victory in the open women’s 10 k freestyle individual start at Canadian Ski Nationals on Tuesday, completing the two-lap course in 32:02.5.

Fresh off a flight from Europe, her teammate Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST) was second. Ragnhild Haga of Norway also flew in from overseas last night, yet pulled off third overall (+8.1).

Top 10

1. Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST)

2. Alysson Marshall (AWCA/NST)

3. Ragnhild Haga (Norway)

4. Perianne Jones (CNST)

5. Caitlin Patterson (UVM)

6. Jaqueline Mourao (Brazil)

7. Chandra Crawford (CNST)

8. Britt Ingunn Nydal (Norway)

9. Amy Glen (UVM)

10. Maya MacIsaac-Jones (RMR)

Women’s 10 k freestyle results