• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Canada at the World Juniors Part 4: The 1990's

      January 13, 2013

      The first World Junior races of the 1990's, were held in Les Saises, France. Canada had high hopes for the event as Marie-Josee Pepin, the silver medalist from 1989 was returning for her last year of competition as a junior.  Unfortunately Mother Nature disrupted plans and the event was postponed to the end of March, not ideal when the Canadian team had already travelled to France to compete.
      Marie-Josee had solid performances with a 14th and 16th place finishes individually. On the men's side Donald Farley posted a strong 15th place result in the 10k race.  Donald would go on to be the only man on the Canadian team at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, while an infamous name from 2002, Johann Muhlegg of Germany won the men's 30k skate competition.
      In 1991 the Juniors were held in Reit Im Winkl, Germany.  Robin McKeever, present CCC Para-Nordic coach, was the top Canadian male at the event finishing 25th and 32nd, on the women's side Brook Latimer set the standard for the Canadians with 33rd and 43rd. A young Canadian skier, with three years of eligibility remaining,  by the name of Beckie Scott made her international debut finishing 47th and 49th individually.
      Kuopio, Finland was the site of the 1992 juniors and only Beckie Scott and Robin McKeever represented Canada, finishing with best results of 36th and 33rd respectively. After concern that many World Junior team members went over and finished near the back of the pack, a stringent selection criteria had been put in place with the objective that athletes that qualify, would need to demonstrate potential to achieve a top 1/2 of a field placing.
      Harrachov in the Czech Republic was the host in 1993 and Robin McKeever was again the top Canadian male in his last year of eligibility with two top 20 places, 14th and 20th. On the women's side, two skiers that were soon to be fixtures on the national team and 2002 Olympians  represented the country, Jaime Fortier and Milaine Theriault. Milaine from St. Quentin, New Brunswick was the first skier from that province to qualify for the World Junior team.
      The 1994 World Juniors were held in Breitenwang, Germany and the men's 30k saw Japan surprise the field with silver and gold. The winner, Mitsuo Horigome, also claimed bronze in the 10k. Canada's best men's results were by Jean-Francois Crouffer.
      On the women's side future Canadian 2002 Olympic stars were gaining valuable experience as Beckie Scott finished 34th in the 5k and Sara Renner 24th in the 15k skate event.  Jamie Fortier finished 1 place ahead of Beckie in the 15k. 
      Gallivare, Sweden was the host in 1995, the same year the World Championships for Seniors, took place in Thunder Bay. It was not the most successful event for Canada, with Sacha Bergeron and Jaime Fortier the top Canadians in both events.
      The 1996 juniors saw better results for Canada as 2 young Canadians, both with 2 year's of eligibility remaining, came through with strong results. Amanda Fortier came 8th in the 15k skate event and Melissa Hayman finished 20th in classic. The 2 youngsters combined with Amanda's older sister Jaime and Sara Renner for a 7th place result in the relay, Canada's best result since 1980.
      In the men's races CCC's present Executive Director, Davin McIntosh set the standard with a 20th place result in skating and Gord Jewett was the top Canadian in the 10k classic.
      1997 saw the World Juniors return to Canada as Canmore, Alberta hosted the event. Melissa Hayman and Amanda Fortier posted 28th and 23rd place results respectively to lead the Canadians in the classic and skate events.
      On the men's side Jeff Mackay was the top skier in classic, with Arthur Ayers providing the best result in skating. Two of the present Alberta World Cup Academy coaches, Chris Jeffries and Stefan Kuhn also competed in these events.
      The 1998 event was held in Pontresina, Switzerland.  Melissa Hayman and Amanda Fortier were still the top Canadians, with results in the middle of the field. Tara Whitten made her international debut in the skate race and would go on to win a silver medal in the sprint, at the 2003 World U23 championships.
      Gord Jewett continued as the top Canadian man again in both races and competed alongside  Brian McKeever and George Grey, who would join him on the 2010 Olympic team.  It was not long after this event that Brian started having trouble with his vision, leading him to also have an outstanding career on the Para-Nordic circuit.
      The 1990's events concluded in Saafelden, Austria and George Grey had the top result for the men in both events,  including a 32nd place finish in the 10k classic. Tara Whitten was the top Canadian on the women's side.

      Results and more information
      1990 Les Saises, France
      1991 Reit Im Winkel, Germany
      1992 Voukatti, Finland
      1993 Harrachov, Czech Republic
      1994 Breitenwang, Germany
      1995 Gallivare, Sweden
      1996 Asiago, Italy
      1997 Canmore, Canada
      1998 Pontresina, Switzerland
      1999 Saafelden, Austria