March 21, 2017 (Canmore, AB) – Emily Nishikawa and Devon Kershaw battled through incredibly difficult conditions to climb onto the top of the women’s and men’s podiums in the cross-country classic-ski interval start races at the 2017 Ski Nationals on Tuesday.
Devon Kershaw © Pam Doyle
Fresh off competing in front of more than 50,000 strong at the World Cup Finals in Quebec City, two of the veterans of the National Ski Team handily won their first national titles of 2017, while inspiring hundreds of the nation’s young skiers who have descended on the Canmore Nordic Centre this week – all working to follow in the trails of their Olympic heroes.
Dag Frode Trolleboe © Pam Doyle
“It was so hard, hot and the conditions were vicious,” said Kershaw. “I cramped up with five kilometres to go. It was a really hard day. But this is my home. I love Canmore and I think it is important for the kids to see that even after a hard World Cup season you should come and support the national championships.”
Graeme Killick © Pam Doyle
Happy to be back to his home training centre after a five-month grind competing around the globe, the 34-year-old Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., won the men’s 15-kilometre race with a time of 45:05.3.
“That was a massive effort for me,” added Kershaw. “The conditions were just really, really slow, but I wanted to do this race to end the season.”
Andy Shields © Pam Doyle
Kershaw shared the podium with two American skiers from the University of Denver. Dag Frode Trolleboe was second at 45:49.9, while Moritz Madlener skied to the bronze with a time of 45:52.1. Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., was the second best Canadian male with a time of 46:14.5. Davis Palmer from the Black Jack Ski Club clocked the third-best Canadian time at 46:27.8.
Brian McKeever © Pam Doyle
Preparing to represent Canada at this fourth Olympic Winter Games next February, Kershaw wrapped up another memorable campaign where he was a member of Canada’s first-ever 4×7.5-kilometre bronze-medal winning relay squad at a World Cup stop in Ulricehamn, Sweden. He also posted his best individual result in more than two years when he finished 10th in a skiathlon race in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Feeding off the success of Kershaw, Alex Harvey and the Canadian men, Emily Nishikawa and the female Canucks will also wrap up a solid 2017 campaign at the Ski Nationals.
Emily Nishikawa © Nordic Focus
Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, stomped the field on Tuesday to win the women’s 10-kilometre classic-ski race on Tuesday. The 27 year old set the time to beat at 29:07.6.
“It was great to be back racing today in Canmore and see so many friendly faces out there,” said the 2014 Olympian. “It was tough racing today, having raced three races last weekend in Quebec and then travel, but I was so happy to be able to race.
“I had great skis and was able to have another solid race. It is always an honour to win a National Title. I love racing at Nationals.”
Mary Rose, of the United States, posted the second-fastest time at 30:32.4.
Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) © Nordic Focus
Nishikawa’s World Championship teammate, Katherine Stewart-Jones of Chelsea, Que., was the next best Canadian finishing third overall with a time of 30:35.5. Quebec’s Frederique Vezina was the third-best Canadian in the women’s field, stopping the clock at 30:43.6.
Canada’s senior skiers motivated the young Canucks at the national champs hosted at the world-renowned Canmore Nordic Centre.
“I think it is really important for the next generation to get a chance to compete against, and meet National Team athletes,” said Nishikawa. “When I was a juvenile racing at Nationals, I was so inspired to be able to meet some of my idols who were on the National Team, so it’s important to me that I am here.”
Sam Hendry, (r), with the Canmore Nordic Ski Club, skis to a second place finish in the Junior Boys 10 km individual skate © Pam Doyle
Sam Hendry from the Canmore Nordic Ski Club won the junior boys 7.5-kilometre race with a time of 19:29.7. Beth Granstrom who skis out of the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club captured the national crown in junior girl’s field. Granstrom skied to a time of 31:22.4.
Tom Stephen from Foothills Nordic won the juvenile boys 7.5-kilometre race at 19:52.5. Justine Browne from Fondeurs-Laurentides was the top Canadian in the juvenile girls five-kilometre race with a time of 15:05.9. Novie McCabe, of the United States, posted the fastest time in the division with a time of 14:18.6.
The 2017 Ski Nationals continue on Wednesday with the first of two days of sprint racing. For complete details on Ski Nationals, please visit here. Results can also be found here.