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33rd Gatineau Loppet Wraps Up with an Electrifying Finish

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February 21, 2011 (Gatineau, QC) – Close to 700 skiers showed up on Sunday morning for the 51km and the 28km freestyles. Unlike yesterday’s mass start, Sunday’s took place under a magnificent blue sky and bathed in brilliant sunshine. The winds had slowed and the temperature was a crisp 16 below.

Canadians Sweep 28K Freestyle Podium
Sean Thompson from St-Bruno had good reason to be proud as he took the first place spot on the podium for the second time in two days, this one with a time of 1:08:30.6, and yesterday’s victory being for his win of the 28 km classic. For a second consecutive day, Sacha Desfossés from Prévost finished in second place, but with a better time of 1:11:49.9. He was followed one one-hundreth of a second later by Julien Lamoureux from Sainte-Julie, who took third place with a time of 1:11:50.0.

In the women’s category, Ottawa’s Adele Lay won the top spot with a time of 1:17:51.4. Kate Crawford from Essex Junction, U.S.A. earned the silver medal with 1:20:42.5. Montréal’s Annie Chénard took home the bronze, with a time of 1:24:35.1.

Electrifying Finish in the Men’s 51K
Spectators at the finish line were treated to a phenomenal finale, as the five skiers finished in a space of only 7 seconds. Ottawa’s Aidan Lennie was in the lead with a time of 2:07:52.1, for which he won the $1,200 purse. Eli Enman, from Huntington, U.S.A. was two seconds behind, with a time of 2:07:54.0, which earned him the silver medal. One second later Canmore’s Erik Carleton secured the third spot on the podium and a swig of champagne for his 2:07:54.9. These three skiers were only slightly ahead of Marc-André Bédard from Valcartier, who made it in 2:07:55.0, and Karl Saidla, a member of the event’s board of directors, who came in fifth with 2:07:59.1.

Kamila Borutova from the Czech Republic made it to the top step on the podium for the women’s race with 2:25:04.2. This win was doubly sweet after her previous day’s gold for the 28 km classic style. Calgary’s Eva Szabo, who had finished 3rd in 2009, took 2:27:13.2 to earn the silver medal. Ottawa’s Sheila Kealy, who won the 53 km classic style in 2010, was exactly 2 seconds behind, with an impressive last-minute sprint, bringing her time to 2:27:15.2.

Dazzling Performance by Young Skiers in the 10K
The 10 km is always good for some fancy footwork by local young skiers. This was once again the case, with 5 of the 6 steps of the podium going to local skiers.

In the women’s category, Gatineau’s Noémi Bérubé, who had come second in this same race in 2009, slid to victory with a time of 27:28.3. Claudia Cameron, from Metcalfe, finished in 28:43.1, followed by Emma Underwood from Kattskill Bay in the U.S.A., who only yesterday had won the 5 km classic.

Among the boys, the first two places went to Gatineau residents Xavier Bouchard (23:46.6) and Dominique Mancions-Groulx (23:47.0). Third place went to Ottawa’s Benjamin Wlkinson-Zan (23:48.8).

The Mini
Close to 200 children, accompanied by their parents, showed up for this 2 km race, which we remind you is not timed. These young athletes in the making proudly crossed the finish line to the applause of their emotional fans. Inflatable structures, cookies and drinks awaited them. Gatineau’s 11 year-old Stéphanie Girard was the first to poke through the finish line, followed by 10 year-old Wade Clemenhagen, of the Chelsea Nordiq club. A big high five to them all!

A New Course?
Throughout the three days of the event, skiers were invited to fill out a survey to indicate their interest in a point A to point B event instead of the current loop. The feedback was very positive, and it will probably take a while to analyze the results. There are some obstacles, particularly in regard to funding and organization, but the skiers’ responses were enough to urge us on.

An International Event
With 22 participating countries, clearly the Gatineau Loppet is an international event. Several embassies wanted to mark the presence of participants from their countries. Thus, the 16 km starting signal was given by Sweden’s Ambassador, His Excellency Teppo Tauriainen. The 5 km was kicked off jointly by His Excellency Karel Žebrakovský, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Estonia, Riho Kruuv. The First Secretary of the Embassy of Switzerland, Bernadette Hurschler, handed the prizes to the winners of the 16 km and chocolates to all of the participants in this race. Robert Moulié, representative of the Embassy of France, was also at the Worldloppet cocktail, which celebrates our international participants. Special treats for the evening were arranged by the Embassy of Estonia, which provided beer samples, and the Embassy of Sweden, which offered blueberry soup, the customary refreshment at their feeding stations. Talk about getting a taste for exploring the world!

“In this first year as President, I had the privilege of seeing the incredible work done by the beautiful big Gatineau Loppet team. I am particularly proud to see that none of these people shy away from a challenge, and that “success” is their single currency. All of this came through very clearly at this 33rd edition,” indicated President Yan Michaud.

The organizers of the Gatineau Loppet would like to thank the 2,153 local and visiting skiers and the thousands of spectators who made this 33rd edition a resounding success right down the line. A special greeting to the 3 year-old, who was the youngest, and the 84 year-old, the event’s venerable patriarch.

Congratulations to all of the skiers. We hope to see you again next year for the 34th edition, from February 17 to 19, 2012.

Nishikawas Dominate the Podium on Day 3 of Haywood NorAm Easterns

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February 14, 2011 (Cantley, QC) – The Eastern Canadian Championships, hosted by Nakkertok, wrapped up on Sunday with familiar faces on the podium. With temperatures rising throughout the day, peaking just below zero, the weather was more settled than it had been for the previous races.

Emily Nishikawa (Whitehorse/AWCA) took the top step on the podium for the 3rd time this weekend as she won the 15km classic Pursuit. Leading from the word go, Nishikawa kept ahead of her rivals as she led from start to finish.

Sarah Daitch (Rocky Mountain Racers) narrowly beat out Alysson Marshall (AWCA/BCST) for 2nd place, just 15 seconds back. Heidi Widmer (Foothills Nordic/AWCA) and Alana Thomas (Nakkertok) rounded out the top 5.

“I’m so happy with how this weekend went. I felt strong in all three races and was skiing well,” said Emily Nishikawa “The pursuit yesterday was a good race for me, I didn’t know how far back the other girls were so I just focused on my race and pushed as hard as I could. I’m pretty pumped about winning the overall, and very happy for my brother as well.”

Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse/AWCA) took home his second gold medal, and third medal of the weekend, as he won the men’s 30km classic pursuit. Nishikawa powered away from the rest of the field from the gun and by the half way mark, had nearly a minute on the rest of the field.

“I had a perfect race today,” he told SkiTrax. “It was nerve racking being chased down by the field, but I just tried to focus on my own race and was able to ski away from the guys.”

“Thirty kilometers was a long distance to ski solo. It took a lot of mental focus. I am very happy to have won the mini tour. The organizers did a great job with the event,” added Nishikawa.

Kevin Sandau (Foothills Nordic/NST) was 1:22 back in second place, and Michael Somppi (Lappe Nordic/NDC T-Bay) took the bronze. Pate Neumann (Canmore Nordic/AWCA) and Karl Saidla (XC Ottawa) finished fourth and fifth, with Saidla posting the 2nd fastest men’s time of the day.

Both Graham and Emily Nishikawa easily led the overall standings after the weekend of racing, Emily by more than a minute, and Graham by more than two minutes over their closest rivals.

“I am not sure about the future, but I hope to head to the World Cups in the spring, after some much needed rest,” commented Graham Nishikawa.

This weekend’s racing was the final NorAm event in Canada this season.

Women’s results HERE.
Men’s results HERE.