Emily Nishikawa and Lenny Valjas Strike First at Canadian Ski Championships
Cross Country Canada – Anne-Marie Petitclerc and Remi Drolet win Junior Championship crowns
GATINEAU, Que.—Emily Nishikawa and Lenny Valjas held off a hard-charging next generation of Olympic cross-country skiers to win the first gold medals of the Canadian Ski Championships in Gatineau, Que. on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Nishikawa took control of the women’s five-kilometre individual start classic-ski race, while completing the one lap course at the Nakkertok Nordic Centre in a time of 13:58.0.
“It was a great race and fun to be back racing at nationals,” said the Whitehorse resident. “It is a great course and it was in great condition. This is such an amazing event. It is inspiring for me to see the future of our sport out here competing. To get another national title here today is just the cherry on top.”
Nishikawa’s Olympic teammate, and fellow member of the Whitehorse Ski Club, Dahria Beatty, finished on her heels in the silver-medal position with a time of 14:05.7.
Katherine Stewart-Jones, who led the Canadian women at the recent World Championships with a 28th-place finish in the 30-kilometre race, put a bronze medal up on the board for the hometown faithful. The Chelsea, Que. resident clocked a third-place time of 14:10.4.
Anne-Marie Petitclerc, of Club Nordique in Mont Saint-Anne, Que., was the top junior woman on the day, winning the gold with a time of 14:49.6.
One of Canada’s Olympic best, Lenny Valjas, returned home to use the Canadian Ski Championships as a tune-up race for the World Cup Finals.
The 30-year-old Torontonian controlled the field with a time of 25:09.3 in the men’s 10-kilometre classic-ski mass start race.
“It was great skiing today and even better to just see how many kids who are here racing. It is awesome. This sport is growing even more then from when I was younger. I’m excited to be out here skiing and these kids are providing a little inspiration for me as I prepare for the World Cup Finals in Quebec City,” said Valjas, who has won multiple World Cup medals throughout his career.
The two-time Olympian topped Bob Thompson, of Thunder Bay, Ont., by just under 16 seconds. Thompson stopped the clock at 25:25.0 for the silver. Canada’s 20-year-old Antoine Cyr, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., won the race for the bronze medal with a time of 25:26.1.
Remi Drolet, of Rossland, B.C., crossed the line first in the junior men’s 10-kilometre race, posting a golden time of 25:19.2
“These kids are fast and strong,” said Valjas. “We don’t know what the ceiling is for these kids. They are already posting numbers that Alex (Harvey) did when he was their age. There is going to be a bit of a gap (when Alex leaves) but these kids are talented, and we may have World Cup podiums sooner than we think.”
More than 800 skiers from across Canada are taking part in the event that runs from March 13 to 19, 2019 at the Nakkertok Nordic Ski Centre on the edge of Gatineau. A full schedule is available at https://championnatscanadiensdeski2019.engne.ca
Complete Results: https://bit.ly/2VZPPgl
CCC is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Swix and Lanctôt Sports– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us at www.cccski.com.
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