March 21, 2012 (Mont Ste-Anne, QC) – Junior, juvenile and para-Nordic skiers basked in sunshine and sprinted to remarkable times given the watery conditions on Wednesday. An indication of how conditions would deteriorate can be seen by comparing the mid-morning qualification times to the final mid-afternoon times.
In the qualifiers Junior Girls Foothills’ phenom Suzanne Stevenson flew to a 2:56.83 time over the 1.2km course with Caledonia’s Sarah Beaudry at 0.57 seconds behind. Stevenson won the 10km free event the day before by a margin of 1:25 minutes. Watch this girl – rumour has it she gives Chandra Crawford a run for her money.
Third fastest was Sophie Carrier-Laforte at 8.25 seconds back. Beaudry and Stevenson created an incredible gap, but time trials and heats are not the same animal. The ever softening snow was causing more than one collision as the day proceeded into the quarter and semi-finals. Would they be able to carry it to the final?
True to form Stevenson took the crown, nearly 2.5 seconds ahead of her closest rival Katherine Stevenson-Jones of Nakkertok, who took home the silver and had qualified fourth fastest. Third position went to Norwegian Marte Haakenstad Braaten who is skiing for Rocky Mountain while Beaudry of Caledonia scooped the Canadian championship bronze medal and fourth place.
Fifth went to Gabrielle Lemire while Carrier-Laforte was the sixth skier but fifth Canadian. Sixth place for the Canadians was B Final winner Kathryn Peter who skied well in the heats as she’d started off in 25th position after the qualifiers.
Junior Boys 1.2km FR Sprint
Lucas Putnam-Rea of Hollyburn set the pace at 2:34.08 for the top qualification time followed by Nakkertok’s Benjamin Wilkinson-Zan at 1:41 seconds and his team mate Symon Stowe at 1:52 back. By the A Final in mid-afternoon the track had been thoroughly trampled by skiers and the sun. Putnam-Rea had one of the many unfortunate falls of the day in his quarter-final which eliminated his chances of being on the A Final start line. But Wilkinson-Zan moved through the heats and decided to play it safe in terms of collisions by staying at the front of the six finalists, pushing the pace with Julian Freitag of Big Thunder.
As the pack came through the stadium Wilkinson-Zan and Freitag had established a slight gap. A superb skiing Wilkinson-Zan came over the line in 3:06.84 with a huge lead of nearly five seconds over Freitag who took the silver in 3:11.22 and Leandre Fournier Lacombe with a time of 3:11:39 in a photo finish. Fournier Lacombe had the race of his life, moving up from the 24th fastest qualifying time to the bronze medal position. Sam McCann was fourth with a time of 3:16.45, Symon Stowe took fifth (3:18.77) and Curtis Marcha was sixth (3:24.50)
Juvenile Boys 0.8 km FR Sprint
Fastest time in the preliminaries went to John Connor of Larch Hills in 1:43.23 a tight 0.18 seconds ahead of William Dumas of Chelsea, and Joey Foster, son of three-time Olympian Angela Schmidt-Foster at 2.17 seconds back. But how would they fare in the final?
Despite the chewed up conditions all three survived to the A Final where Connor went out fast and dominated except where it counted – the finishing stretch. Dumas came by him to take gold in 1:59.89 with Connor sliding in at 2:01.99. Edouard Reed-Matayer of MSA took the bronze nearly eight seconds back, but 0.26 seconds ahead of Foster of Mountainview in a photo finish. Skibec’s Oliver Hamel was fifth (2:14.97) and Eric Byram of Sovereign Lake was sixth (2:19.95).
Juvenile Girls 0.8km FR Sprint
Marie Corriveau of MSA skied to a 1:58.70 in the qualifications with American skier Brooke Mooney from Stratton Mountain School at 1.09 seconds back and Katie Weaver of Hollyburn chasing at 3.14 seconds back. The top 15 times were less than eight seconds apart which should have set things up for a tight final.
But the heats over sluggish snow took their toll. No one could stay with the USA’s Mooney who came across the line on her own in 2:17.69, nearly six seconds faster than Canadian Kirsten Gillett (2:24:37) of Canmore who won the national championship gold medal. Katie Weaver took the silver in a photo finish against Gillett who raced smart for the win as she’d posted the 15th fastest qualifying time but still ended up on the podium.
The fastest qualifier, Corriveau, won the bronze in 2:27.14, while Revelstoke’s Megan Evans was fifth overall and the fourth Canuck. Gabrielle Sarthou of Monteriski finished 6th in the A Final and was the fifth best Canadian while Madelaine Fraser of North Bay won the B Final to finish behind Monteriski in the top six national skiers.
Full results HERE.