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LYGNA, Nor.— Léo Grandbois was the lone Canadian to crack the top-10 in the opening race for cross-country ski athletes in the U23 category at the Nordic World Ski Championships, finishing ninth on Thursday in Lygna, Norway.

The 22-year-old Quebecer squeaked into the elite group of 10 after clocking a time of 41:07.3 in the men’s 15-kilometre individual start classic-ski race.

“When I start a race, I always want to get the gold, and I’ll continue to do that, but I have to be happy to finish in the top-10 in my first international Under-23 race cross-country skiing,” said Grandbois.  

Grandbois bolted out of the start gate, skiing on a podium pace in the first of three laps on the hilly Norwegian track. He continued to post top-five splits until the 10-kilometre mark when he began to slowly drop time to the fastest skiers on the day.

“I wanted to push the first 5 kilometres to be in a top position and then just survive the rest,” added Grandbois, who was aware of where he stood in the race. “I think I suffered a bit on that second lap, but when the coaches were yelling at me that I was in the top-three, I thought ‘I’ll just die on this track if I need to.’

“It was bittersweet today because I was only 15 seconds from the podium, but I know I gave it all I had today.”

Finland’s Arsi Ruuskanen was crowned World Champion with a time of 40:23.0. Sweden’s Leo Johanssson skied to the silver medal at 40:29.7. Norway’s Haavard Moseby clocked a bronze-medal pace of 40:51.1.

Sam Hendry (Canmore, Alta.) was the next best Canadian in 18th spot at 41:37.1. Ottawa’s Pierre Grall-Johnson was 29th (42:14.0), and Joe Davies (Pemberton, B.C.) placed 35th at 42:39.5.

Anna Parent, of Canmore, Alta., was the only Canadian woman to ski into the top-20, placing 17th in the  10-kilometre classic-ski race. Parent completed her two laps on the hard-packed trails in a time of 31:45.6.

Other Canadian women’s results included: Beth Granstrom (Revelstoke, B.C.) in 37th at 32:42.7; Calgary’s Anna Pryce, who is on the Montana State University Ski Team, placed 40th at 32:47.8. Ontario’s Bronwyn Williams, who skis for the Carleton Ravens varsity team, was 49th at 33:51.7.

Switzerland’s Anja Weber was the only athlete to complete the course in under 30 minutes, securing her the World Championship title (29:59.8). Latvia’s Patricija Eiduka finished 1.3 seconds off the leading pace in second (30:01.1), while Russia’s Veronika Stepanova stopped the clock at 30:12.9 for third spot.

The junior Canucks will be back on the start line on Friday for the 5- and 10-kilometre classic-ski races. 

Complete Results:

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Chris Dornan

Media and Public Relations

Nordiq Canada

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