Diggins and Drolet top 5/10k skate podium to kick off combined championships in Whistler – FasterSkier.com

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The collaborative event featuring the Canadian National Championships and SuperTour Finals kicked off on Sunday March 20 in Whistler with 5/10 kilometer single start freestyle races. (Photo: Nordiq Canada / Nathaniel Mah)

Sunday kicked off a week of racing at the combined event of the Canadian National Cross Country Championship and the US Super Tour Final held in Whistler, British Columbia. Hosted by the Black Tusk Nordic Events Society (BTNES) on the courses of the Olympic Park in Whistler, this event also offers junior and U23 skiers a preview of the courses for next year’s junior and U23 world championships. With the Para-Nordic, Nordic Combined and Junior and Senior Cross-Country events, the week of racing promises to be busy.

After a morning of Paranordic and junior events, the senior women started with 5k interval skating. That meant a single lap of the “Blue A” course, which features two major climbs, one almost from the start. Despite a mix of wintry precipitation expected throughout the week and light snowpack on the corduroy, times were quick as the athletes hit the course.

The podium for the women’s 5 km free start: Jessie Diggins (SMS T2) took the victory ahead of her teammate Julia Kern and Caitlin Patterson of Craftsbury. Katherine Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok Nordic) was fourth, with Sophia Laukli fifth (University of Utah). (Photo: Nordiq Canada / Nathaniel Mah)

Swapping the stars and stripes for her red and blue SMS T2 team suit, Jessie Diggins won the women’s 5k in 11:47.9, with club teammate Julia Kern second (+7.7). Caitlin Patterson of Craftsbury was third (+29.8), ahead of Katherine Stewart-Jones who was the top Canadian runner in fourth (+33.1). Dahria Beatty was second for the Canadians in eighth overall (+56.1), with Cendrine Browne just behind as third for Canada and ninth overall (+1:00.6).

In an interview with Nordiq Canada after the race, Diggins first spoke about the experience of racing among a field of over 180 women and girls from across Canada and the United States.

“That’s super cool,” Diggins said emphatically. “I mean, I’m half Canadian, so it’s really really special for me whenever I can come to Canada. I really love it, and with COVID it’s been a while.

She also spoke of the change of pace and pressure, moving away from the high-stakes environment of the World Cup where the team operated under strict COVID precautions to ensure the season would not be derailed. by an epidemic within the team.

“The biggest benefit for me was being here with my club, having fun. There are all these really great kids running around. And, yeah, it’s really nice to have a bit more relaxation, not quite as high pressure, [especially] after the Olympics. It’s nice to get back to racing because it’s super fun. So I really enjoyed being here.

Diggins described watching the burgeoning field of junior athletes as “super cool” and spoke optimistically about what that means for long-term health and sport success at all levels.

“It’s so fun to see how invested they are in the sport, overall, because they love it, and they want to work hard, and they’re having fun. It’s really cool to see how our sport is growing and expanding, and how great this new generation is.

Sophia Laukli skates to fifth place in the women’s 5k interval free start, which kicked off the Canadian National Championships and US SuperTour finals in Whistler. (Photo: Doug Stephen / Photography VR 45)

Finally, on his own run, Diggins shared that it was a “shock to the system.” Following last weekend’s World Cup final in Falun, Sweden, Diggins spent the week in Annecy, France, where she visited the Salomon Design Center, participated in a live Q&A with a representative of Solomon, and even slipped into a guided tour mountaineering experience near Chamonix.

She then hopped on a flight to Western Canada, once again finding herself at a starting line soon after.

“I got off the plane from France about 40 hours before departure,” laughed Diggins. “So it was a way to get rid of jet lag, and it was very effective. It was a bit of a bit of a shock, but it was really fun to get out there and work hard, and really enjoy it. – I mean, it’s fun. They’re Olympic courses. They’re really, really nice, they have a good flow. So I really enjoyed being there.

Top Canadian Katherine Stewart-Jones spoke to Nordiq Canada about the tough competition: “It was really exciting to race today and to have the Americans here, I knew it was going to be a competitive racing, and I absolutely wanted to perform because, you know, you want to show Canadians are competitive as well,” she said.

Katherine Stewart-Jones, who races on behalf of her club, Nakkertok Nordic, is Canada’s top athlete in the women’s 5k skating event on day one of the Canadian Championships/SuperTour Finals in Whistler. (Photo: Nordiq Canada / Nathaniel Mah)

“Overall, I’m happy with my result. I didn’t think it was my best race. It was the kind of race where the conditions are brutal, and nobody feels good technically, but you had to keep going. During the warm-up, I could tell the conditions were tough to ski, so I gave myself some technical cues during the race, making sure to remember that it was like that for everyone. I’m really happy with my efforts.

Sydney Palmer-Leger (University of Utah) took first place in the U20 women’s standings with a time of 12:36.8. She finished seventh overall.

Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) skied second in the men’s 10k freestyle interval start, which kicked off the Canadian National Championships in Whistler. (Photo: Doug Stephen / Photography VR 45)

Once the women’s race was over, the competition turned to the men who skied 2 x 5 km. Unlike the women’s results, it was the Canadians who took the top three places, led by Remi Drolet (Team Black Jack) in a time of 22:50.2. Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) finished second, +19.8 behind Drolet, while Antoine Cyr (Skinouk QC) completed the podium in third (+29.7).

Luke Jager (University of Utah) was the first American of the day in fourth (+37.4). Jager was followed by two other collegiate athletes, Kjetil Bånerud of Northern Michigan University and Sam Hendry of the University. Bånerud hails from Norway, while Hendry also raced on behalf of Canmore Nordic, his home club. That leaves BSF Pro Team athlete Finn O’Connell as the next on the US SuperTour podium in seventh (+49.7), with Adam Martin of Craftsbury third for the USA in eighth (+50.1). ).

The first six Canadians climb on the podium after an individual start of 10 km. Rémi Drolet (Team Black Jack) took first place ahead of Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) and Antoine Cyr (Skinouk). Sam Hendry (Canmore Nordic) finished fourth, followed by Graham Ritchie (NTDC – Thunder Bay) and Philippe Boucher (Skibec). (Photo: Nordiq Canada / Nathaniel Mah)

Like many top athletes, Drolet has just returned from Europe after the conclusion of the World Cup circuit. He spoke to Nordiq Canada after the race saying, “I really came into the race today with no expectations. I thought in my head that if I executed well and pushed hard, then I would be happy with the race, and the result just came in, so that was just a bonus for me.

In soft and sloppy conditions there were a number of mishaps on the race course and Drolet said: “I think with conditions like these it can be very easy to get an idea . I think a lot of people did that. But I think you can just stay focused on the skiing and not worry too much about the conditions, then you’ll be fine.

“You have to stay focused on the skiing and not on the conditions. When you think about it too much, things happen. I was really happy to have been able to organize a good race today. This is where I strive to be, and it really feels good.

Before heading to Canada, Jager competed in NCAA competitions in Soldier Hollow, Utah, where he and the rest of the Utes earned their third consecutive national victory.

Luke Jager of the University of Utah is the top American and fourth overall in the first 10k start skate in Whistler. (Photo: Doug Stephen / Photography VR 45)

The men’s U20 race was won by Tom Stephen (Foothills Nordic) in 23:33.3. Stephen finished sixth overall.

The races continue today, Monday March 21, with a 10/15 km classic, followed on Wednesday March 23 by an individual classic sprint. The sprint series will be broadcast live; these are visualized here.

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