• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Haywood RACE Report: Graeme Killick & Emily Nishikawa win Haywood NorAm Skiathlon

      January 8, 2015


      The Haywood RACE Report is powered by Haywood Securities Inc. - a proud sponsor of the National Cross Country Ski Team

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      The weather continues to be a story as the racing season progresses. Less than 2 weeks ago Highlands didn't have enough snow to run the Haywood NorAm races but Mother Nature decided to cooperate and if anything, now it is too much winter that is causing challenges in Duntroon.

      On Wednesday the temperature was -18 with snow falling and a lot of snow blowing sideways due to high winds. Whiteout conditions were causing problems on the roads and occasionally the trails. Fortunately race day didn't have more snow falling and despite some strong winds with the temperatures rising to -12 the conditions were much more favourable for spectators, racers and volunteers.

      The main Haywood NorAm races were 30 and 15 k skiathlon events for the older racers and 20 and 10k skiathlons for the juniors. On the line a ticket to Kazakhstan, for the race winners in the junior and U23 age classes, the site of the 2015 World Junior and U23 Nordic Championships.

      The men's 30k was an 8 lap race, with a transition in the middle from classic to skating. It was a bit of a traffic jam on the first lap as 20 skiers formed the front group, slightly ahead of the rest of the skiers.

      Lappe's Michael Somppi and Graeme Killick of Ptarmigan Nordic led at the front through the second lap along with Lifesport's Brian McKeever, Whitehorse's Knute Johnsgaard and Black Jacks's David Palmer. The top 15 were still pretty close together.

      Over the next few km. the pack was whittled down to a group of 9, before Graeme Killick upped the pace showing the early season form that brought some good performances on the World Cup circuit. By the transition Graeme was in front by 16 seconds ahead of Knute Johnsgaard, Brian McKeever and Michael Somppi. 5 more skiers were close behind.

      At the end of the 1st skating lap Graeme had extended his lead to 30 seconds with a pack of 9 looking more and more likely to be fighting for silver and bronze. One athlete who appeared to have beniffited from the change of techniques and skis was Foothills Nordic's Kevin Sandau who was now leading the chase group.

      By 20k Killick had further increased his lead by 5 seconds as 7 skiers were still chasing, including U23 hopefuls Knute Johnsgaard, Colin Ferrie of Kimberley, Scott Hill of Team Hardwood and David Palmer of Black Jack.

      As they started the last lap the lead was at 50 seconds for Killick, the race for 2nd and 3rd was down to 5 skiers. The last lap saw quite a battle between Scott Hill and Michael Somppi, with Hill coming through for 2nd, 46 seconds behind Killick and about 3 seconds ahead of Somppi. Based on this result it look like Scott Hill would be a qualifier for the U23 Championship team.

      The next 3 positions were separated by less than a second as Knute Johnsgaard, Colin Ferrie and Brian McKeever came through together about 10 seconds back of 3rd. Johnsgaard and Ferrie are both U23 eligible so today's result should put them in the running for a U23 position when the final ranking list is compiled.

      Michael Somppi finishing 3rd in today`s skiathlon

      The senior women’s 15 k was another battle against the elements, and the other racers, as strong winds and -12 deg. C. temperatures made for some tough going on the open sections of the course. Fittingly it was Whitehorse, Yukon’s Emily Nishikawa that seemed to cope best with the weather on her way to a 20 second victory in the skiathlon. 

      The first lap was a close contest as Emily led the way closely followed by U23 skier Cendrine Browne of Fondeurs Laurentides. Rocky Mountain Racers Andrea Dupont followed closely and Cendrine’s Fondeurs teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt.

      As the race progressed, Emily and Cendrine moved into a 20 seconds lead on the second lap as they came into the transition, with Bouffard-Nesbitt leading Dupont by 15 seconds. As the skate section progressed the leaders increased their lead to a minute, with Nishikawa gaining a few seconds on Browne while Andrea Dupont closed into Bouffard-Nesbitt in the hunt for 3rd place.

      At the finish it was Emily Nishikawa with a comfortable win, once again showing she is one of the strongest if not the strongest distance skiers in Canada. Browne was the U23 winner, capturing 2nd place overall and likely claiming a place on the U23 World Championship team.

      Andrea Dupont pulled away from Bouffard-Nesbitt for 3rd, with another Yukon skier Dahria Beatty closing strong in 5th, just 1 second behind.

      Senior Women Podium

      The Junior Women's 10k race was a tale of 2 competitions, classic and skating. Maya MacIssac-Jones of Rocky Mountain Racers started strong, picking up an 8 second lead on the first lap over Katharine Stewart-Jones of Nakkertok and Anne-Marie Comeau of Mont Ste. Anne. Just behind was a group of another 3 skiers Marie Corriveau of Mont Ste. Anne, Sophie Carrier-Laforte of Skinouk and Ember Large of Rocky Mtn. Racers.

      As they pulled into the transition zone Maya McIssac-Jones had extended her lead to 20 seconds over Stewart-Jones and it was 18 seconds back to Comeau. With a 20 second gap to the next skiers it looked like the podium was pretty much decided.

      The skiathlon race is 2 races in one and that's how the results of the top 3 in this race worked out.

      McIssac-Jones couldn't compete with the others over the skating portion of the race and her significant lead gradually dwindled. At the same time Anne-Marie Comeau turned on her significant skating skills.

      At the halfway point on the skate section Anne-Marie had made up almost 1 minute on McIssac-Jones to take the lead 15 seconds ahead of Stewart-Jones.  McIssac-Jones had now dropped to third 10 seconds off 2nd.

      Comeau continued her excellent performance to cruise in for the win, 35 seconds ahead of Stewart-Jones. Maya McIssac-Jones had to settle for 3rd just 5 seconds ahead of a fast closing Marie Corriveau. The result for Anne-Marie Comeau should likely guarantee her a place on the World Junior team. 

      On the men's side the race was a little more straight forward as Quebec swept the podium having claimed 5 of the 6 junior medals.

      12 skiers came through the first lap close together led by Olivier Hamel of Skibec. The group narrowed down to 7 by the end of the 2nd lap

      On the 3rd lap Alexis Dumas of Skibec and Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier of Fondeurs Laurentide started to build up a gap on the rest of the field. They moved ahead of Georgian Bay's David Askwith by 9 seconds and were another 5 seconds ahead of Edouard Reed-Métayer from Skibec and Peter Hicks of Canmore.

      On the final leg of classic the 2 at the front extended their lead over Askwith to 19 seconds and he in turn led 
      by 8 seconds over Cristofanilli.

      On the first 3 laps of skating Cristofanilli pulled ahead of Askwith in a bid for silver and gold. However Dumas and Izquierdo-Bernier held off the challenge and were neck and neck in the approach to the finish. At the line it was Dumas that would prevail and looks set to join his club team-mate Phillipe Boucher on a trip to Kazakhstan. Zachary Cristofanilli came in 37 seconds later for 3rd and Davis Askwith was 4th.

      With 2 races remaining it looks like selection for the Canadian U23 and Junior World Championship teams are heating up. The athletes will have a day off before Saturday's classic technique Buff sprints and then the final selection race will take place as interval start, free technique distance races on Sunday.

      At this point 2 of the 4 possible positions on the Junior and U23, women's and men's teams look to be locked up, with space for a likely minimum of 2 more skiers on each team, of each gender. Those positions could be taken by skiers that are able to take the titles in the next 2 races. Check the NST selection criteria for more details.

      Mother Nature seems to be cooperating somewhat in the weather department, with highs over the next few days expected to be between -5 and -10. There is still a chance of flurries on those days, which in this part of the country could be quite extensive. The wind appears to be moderating somewhat but it is still expected to be breezy.

      Live results  Official results should be available later today, also at Zone4.

      Follow race updates and the official press release on the CCC website, TwitterFacebook