Canada at the World Juniors and U23 Championships Part 5: 2000-2009

    14 janvier 2013

    The first races of the 2000s were held in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia. Tara Whitten and Claire Critchley led the Canadian women, with Tara's 28th, in the inaugural sprint event, the top placing.
     
    Guillaume Joly had the top classic result for the men in 32nd, with Adam Kates the top distance, skate skier.  Joly also had a good performance in the sprint, qualifying 20th and finishing the final in 25th. 17 year old Devon Kershaw made his debut at the event, with results of 66th, 67th and 86th.
     
    2001 saw the events move to Poland for the first time, at Karpacz-Szklarska.  Sofie Manarin had Canada's best women's distance result in the 15k, an excellent result for a 16 year old. Madeleine Williams was the top skier in the 5k and Chandra Crawford made her debut at the world level and was the top Canadian sprinter in 27th, just ahead of Shayla Swanson in 28th. 
     
    Drew Goldsack was the top male with a 24th and 29th finish in the distance events and just missing sprint qualification. The top Canadian sprinter was Connal Robertson-More in 30th. Devon Kershaw had 39th and 41st place finish in the distance events, and present U.S. sprint stars Kikkan Randall and Andy Newell both finished 6th in their respective events.
     
    Tragically Sofie Manarin passed away as a result of a traffic accident several months after the event, while training on her bike for the upcoming season.  As a member of the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club, Sofie had won 13 Junior Championship medals in her short career and had great promise for a long term successful career in the sport.
     
    Schonach, Germany was the site of the 2002 event and Canada's best result was a 12th place finish by Chandra Crawford in the sprint. Sean Crooks finished 18th in the men's sprint and had the best skate distance result while Devon Kershaw topped the classic event in 49th. Madeleine Williams was the top distance skier for Canada. The relays, the last event, were cancelled due to high winds, rain and lack of snow on parts of the trails. 
     
    The 2003 event was held in Solleftea, Sweden and Dasha Gaiazova (16th 5k cl.) and David Nighbour were the top distance skiers for Canada.  Sean Crooks had the top sprint result in 11th and Chandra Crawford was 23rd for the top Canadian woman's sprint result.
     
    The World Juniors returned toNorway, in Stryn for 2004. Perianne Jones was the top female skier for Canada, claiming 13th in the sprint and 22nd in the classic race. Marcia Birkgit was fastest in the skate event. Casey Dyck placed 14th and Chris Werrell 15th in the sprint a strong performance for Canada in that event. Dave Nighbor was the top distance skier with 35th and 36th place results, followed by a 23rd in the sprint.

    Rovaniemi, Finland was the host in 2005 and present NST skier Perianne Jones was the top Canadian, finishing 14th in the 5k, 15th in the sprint and  27th in the inaugural skiathlon event.  Brent McMurtry topped the sprints in 20th, with Chris Butler 33rd in the skiathlon which was won by Petter Northug. Northug also won the 10k skate race, in which the top Canadian was a 16 year old Quebec skier called Alex Harvey, in 43rd.
     
    In 2006 the U23 Championships were incorporated into the program of the World Juniors. They had previously been held as a separate competition with mixed interest by both FIS and some countries. This change increased the focus of the U23 event, which was felt to be an important development bridge between junior and full senior National Team participation and success.
     
    The events were held in Kranj, Slovenia and an additional change was the shortening of the relay competition. 
     
    Daria Gaiazova was the top skier for Canada at the U23 competitions, twice finishing 5th and also 6th. Of note present national team skiers Perianne Jones and Chandra Crawford also had good results at that event. On the men's side Dave Nighbor was the top distance skier and Phil Widmer was 17th in the sprint.
     
    For the Juniors, Amanda Ammar had the best performance with a tie for 7th in the pursuit, with Liz Stephen of the U.S. Amanda was also the best sprinter with Brittany Webster the best skier in the 5k classic. Of note a Belorussian  athlete was found to have doped and disqualified after the competition.
     
    Alex Harvey had solid 16th and 17th place finishes with Chris Butler the top Canadian in the 10k classic. Petter Northug won all three individual events.
     
    Tarvisio, Italy was the site of the 2007 event and once again there was a switch in date from January to March, due to lack of snow.
     
    Alex Harvey became the first Canadian male to win a medal at the World Juniors and he did it twice, with bronze in both distance events and a 16th in the sprint. Brittany Webster also did well with a 9th and 6th in distance, while Kate Brennan came through for 20th in the sprint.
     
    On the U23 side of the event Perianne Jones came 16th in the sprint and Amanda Ammar had the top Canadian results in distance with 18th and 29th. Dario Cologna won double gold with Brent McMurtry and Dave Nighbor the top distance skiers and McMurtry was the best in the sprint with 31st. A Kazak skier ran afoul of the doping police and was disqualified at the event.
     
    Mother Nature also had a hand in the 2008 event as Val Venosta, Italy replaced  Szczyrk-Wisla, Poland as the host site. 
     
    It was another  successful event for Alex Harvey as he claimed a silver medal to match the Canadian standard set by Marie-Josee Pepin's in 1989. Alex would also claim two, 4th place finishes.  The Canadian men did really well in the sprint, with Alex 4th, Frederic Touchette 18th, Julien Nury 25th and future National Team star, Lenny Valjas 28th. Frederic also had 2 strong distance finishes, 14th and 17th, that were among the best Canadian results in previous championships.
     
    On the women's side Marlis Kromm was 20th in the junior sprint with Alysson Marshall finishing in the 30's in distance. At U23 Perianne Jones and Amanda Ammar had the top placings as did Brent McMurtry and Chris Butler for the men.
     
    In 2009 the races were held in Praz de Lys, France. Alex Harvey moved to the U23 ranks and led a successful Canadian male contingent at the event. Fred Touchette and Lenny Valjas led the games off with 6th and 7th place results at 15k. In the sprint Canada had 4 in the top 10 with Alex 5th, Lenny 6th, Frederic 8th and Brent McMurtry 10th. The results in the pursuit were also great with Alex 4th, losing out on bronze in a photo finish, Fred 9th, Brent 10th and Lenny 13th. 
     
    On the women's U23 side Brittany Webster was the top distance skier and Alysson Marshall was the top sprinter with 12th. 
     
    The juniors highlight was Julien Nury's 8th in the sprint, with Graeme Killick 15th and David Greer 24th in distance.  For the women Marlis Kromm was the top Canadian in all three races, with Heidi Widmer just behind in the sprint.