• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Canada at the World Juniors Part 1: The 1970's

      23 août 2012

       European Juniors

      Prior to the establishment of the World Junior championships, most of the  world's top junior competitors participated in the European Junior Championships which first took place in 1968, in Les Rousses France.

      Canada first participated in the European Junior Championships in 1970 in Gosau, Austria. The top result was by Malcolm Hunter of Ottawa, who tied for 19th in the 10k event behind nordic legend Oddvar Braa of Norway.  Shirley Firth of Inuvik finished 21st in the 5k event followed closely by her twin sister Sharon in 22nd.  Canada was 6th in the women's relay and 10th in the men's event.

      Canada returned to the event in 1973 with mixed results in Leningrad, Russia and made it's first international breakthrough in 1974 in Autrans, France.

      Bert Bullock from Inuvik, NWT finished 4th in the men's 15k, a second and a half behind US legend Bill Koch. Koch would go on to win a silver medal 2 years later in the 1976 Olympic 30km event. The top junior in 1974 was multi World and Olympic medallist Thomas Wassberg of Sweden. Esther Miller of Burns Lake BC set a new standard on the women's side with a 19th place finish.

      In 1975 (Lieto, Finland) Bert Bullock and Esther Miller both represented Canada again, with Bert finishing 9th (ahead of Bill Koch) and Esther improving one place to 18th.

      1976 in Liberec, Czechoslovakia was the final year of junior racing for Esther Miller and she finished 19th. She was the second Canadian finisher behind Ottawa born Joan Groothuysen who was 11th, for Canada's strongest women's finish to that time. Doug Gudwer was the top male with a 42nd place finish. Canada fielded both a woman's and men's relay team and they  finished 8th and 12th respectively.

      1977 saw the European competition evolve into the World Junior Championships and it took place in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. Fifteen year old Ida Parkes of Inuvik was the top Canadian in the women's 5k finishing 43rd and Cantley, Quebec's Richard Weber was 48th. Richard would go on to even longer distance events, setting many records for arctic North Pole expeditions.

      Canada did not attend the 1978 World Juniors but would host the event in 1979 at Mont Ste. Anne, Quebec.

      1970 Gosau, Austria
      1973 Leningrad, Russia
      1974 Autrans, France
      1975 Lieto, Finland
      1976 Liberec, Czechoslovakia
      1977 Sainte-Croix, Switzerland
      Murau, Austria (no Canadian participation)