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    • Haywood RACE Report: Katherine Stewart-Jones sets new personal best at the Worlds

      February 6, 2015

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      The it was another bright, blue sky day at Almaty, Kazakhstan for the World Junior skiathlon events. Temperatures kept below zero and the smog gradually crept in later in the day.

      Images from SVT, Swedish Television, screen shots, and CCC Team Leader Lisa Patterson, unless otherwise noted.

      The stadium and race course

      From Lisa. The view from the lowest point on the WJ race course. The Snake Pit. Not the most scenic venue.

      One racer was prepared for the smog, wearing a breathing mask to presumably protect her lungs.

      It was a bit of a tight start as the race began with several athletes, including Katherine Stewart-Jones being slowed up by tangles. This may have had a bearing on Katherine's race as she lost the lead group of skiers and wasn't able to catch back up.

      1.7 k Annah Hanthorn (#31) Katherine Stewart-Jones (#29) Anne-Marie Comeau (#25)

      At 1.7 k Annah and Katherine were 8.5 seconds from the lead and in around 26th position. They maintained their positioning to 2.5 k where the lead at the front was stretching out and Katherine started to pull away from Annah.

      The lead group about 4k, note the valley below

      From 2.5k  Katherine managed to get some breathing room and started to really "get into the groove". She had some good races earlier in the week, felt she could have pushed a little harder on the 5k and was eager to put it altogether in the skiathlon.

      At 4k she had moved up to 20th, skiing at the front of the 2nd chase group with several other skiers she had caught, including Johanna Matintalo from Finland, who she would ski with for most of the rest of the race.

      Katherine at 4k

      Annah had dropped a bit further back and Anne-Marie Comeau was skiing at a consistent pace about 19 seconds back in 26th place.

      With the transition to skating Katherine picked off a few more at the front, moving to 17th by 6.7k, still skiing with Matintalo. She kept up the pace and with about a kilometre to go was 16th but in the middle of a group of 4, including Matintalo and 2 Italians. Just 8 seconds ahead was Tiril Udnes Weng who was 5th in the sprint and 10th in the 5k. Tiril is the twin sister of Lotta that was skiing in 7th.

      Katherine gave it everything on the final kilometre, catching Weng and distancing herself from her group to finish with a solid 14th place finish. This is her best individual result in 3 years of World Junior competition, and over 10 places better than her previous strongest distance result at the Championships.

      Katherine (white suit) edges out Weng at the finish

      Next to the line for Canada was Anne-Marie Comeau in 25th, followed by Maya McIssac-Jones in 45th and Annah Hanthorn in 47th.

      Anne-Marie at 4k

      At the front of the race it looked like Victoria Carl of Germany was going to make it 3 gold in a row at this World Juniors. Carl was near the front of the pack for the first few k and gradually pulled away, building up a lead of over 11 seconds on her pursuers. However it wasn't to be as Carl faded over the last kilometre to finish 2nd, 2 seconds behind Norway's Sofie Hustad.

      In other results of note, the U.S.'s Katharine Ogden was 6th, 6 seconds from the podium, with 2 years of eligibility remaining. Since the birth dates are listed on the results, it is always an interesting exercise to see who could have more years to come at the World Juniors.

      A happy Women's team: l to r Annah Hanthorn, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Anne-Marie Comeau and Maya McIssac-Jones

      Katherine Stewart-Jones
      "It was just such a fun race. The start was really sketchy but I managed to avoid a lot of crashes. There were broken poles everywhere and people yelling and skiing in between tracks. The classic part went by really fast and I had a lot of grip so I was able to ski really relaxed. My legs felt great when I switched to skate. It was really cool to be able to ski with a group of girls. I knew I was feeling really good because on the uphills I would pass them and then they would draft me on the downhill. I just gave everything I had on the last hill. I am soooo excited! The relay is going to be great."

      The men's race was a 20k skiathlon, half classic and half skating. It was not surprisingly dominated by the Russians, after they were 4 for 4 in the 10k.

      Canadian men warming up, white suits (l to r) Phil Boucher, Zachary Cristofanilli, Alexis Dumas

      As usual it was a fairly frenetic start, with a few falls and quite a bit of early congestion. More of that was to come as the smog rolled in.

      Alexis (far left) with an early move

      Alexis made a smart move early, skiing well to the side of the course, moving around the skiers in the track to latch on to the front of the pack. He quickly moved up to 15th place just 5 seconds from the lead.

      At 5k the smog was rolling in and Alexis was 13th, 4 seconds off the lead.

      It was just after 5k that a group of 4 Russians went to the front of the pack and blew the race open. Only Eirik Augdal of Norway was able to keep up and the front group stretched out over the course. The pace quickened and Alexis dropped slightly, to around 17th position.

      The Russian's make their move, Alexis 13th, white suit just behind the main pack.

      As the race progressed in the skating section, Alexis held his own, skiing in a pack of 4 or 5, between 17th and 19th place.  At the front, a trio of Russians broke away, never to be seen again, almost.

      Dumas battled hard with his pack of 4, working together but looking to make up a few places at the finish. It was at 1k to go that the next break happened with Alexey Chervotkin at the front breaking away to finish a second and 2 ahead of his countrymen.

      Alexis was also making his moves on the final k, leaving behind the group he was skiing with and chasing Kvalle of Norway, He had been 3 seconds behind with a k to go, and made up some ground, but was unable to "close the deal" at the finish.

      Alexis, 18th (white suit) at the finish

      Alexis was a bit fortunate to escape the start unscathed. Canadian Team Leader Lisa Patterson reported: "Carnage in WJ Men's race. Big crash off start which included 3 Canadians and 2 broken poles. Another broken pole at end of first lap for Ricardo".

      Alexis after the race

      The rest of the men were back in the pack at the finish, with Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier in 41st, Phillipe Boucher 53rd and Zachary Cristofanilli in 60th.

      Lisa Patterson
      "Very busy day.  It was the good, the bad and the ugly today. Sportsmanship awards go to Annah Hanthorn and Zachary Cristofanilli for persevering through some hardships. Annah had her skis taken from the exchange box by a Finn skier. Annah wasted at least 30 sec searching and then skied on the Finn's skis. At the end of the race she was extremely polite and showed no anger, and actually congratulated the Finn racer. On a positive note, both said their skis were fast.

      Zachary was in the midst of the pile up at the end of the stadium right at the beginning. He was able to replace his broken pole. We didn't realize until a lap in that he also had a broken ski. He exchanged one ski but replaced the good one, not the bad. Zach was unaware that the ski was broken until the very end of the race when we showed him.

      Philippe Boucher broke a pole due to the pile up at beginning and Ricardo when trying to make a significant move at end of first 2.5km lap. Both fought hard but could never regain positions.

      Next up are the U23 skiathlons tomorrow.

      Swedish television have online coverage of the event. Well they did for today's races, ones that FIS were noting as televised. This link streamed the Jr's Skiathlon races in HD,  and may still have them available for review.   SVT   There is a countdown to the start time.

      Cross-Country Skiing (Check the Haywood LIVE Report for Eastern Standard Time show times)

      Sunday, 8th February
      11.00 Relay Ladies 4X3, 3km (C/F) - GMT 5.00
      12.00 Relay Men 4X5 km (C/F) - GMT 6.00

      Cross-Country Skiing U23

      Saturday, 7th February
      11.00 Skiathlon Ladies (7,5C/7,5F) - GMT 5.00
      12.30 Skiathlon Men (15C/15F) - GMT 6.30

      More info at skiplus.ca

      Meanwhile, the World Cup team are training in Seiser Alm, Italy for the upcoming World Championships in Falun
      Alex Harvey: Conditions parfaites à Seiser Alm! / Pimpy conditions in Seiser Alm! 📷cred: @gkillick

      Follow the race on the CCC website, TwitterFacebook