Ontario, Claims Double Sprint Gold, BC fills Men’s Sitski Podium at Cross Country Ski, Race Day 2

    February 27, 2019

    Once again the temperatures were chilly and a 30 minute delay was necessary before the sprint qualifying competitions could get underway.  Laura Leclair of Chelsea, Quebec, yesterday’s gold medalist, was the top qualifier for the women, with Graham Ritchie of Parry Sound, Ontario the men’s top qualifier.

    The top 30 qualifiers in each category face off in ¼ final heats of six.  Then the top two qualify for the semis, and then the top two, plus the next two fastest, going on to the finals.

    The women’s final saw Laura Leclair fall early and have to watch the pack race away on her, along with her dreams of being a double gold medalist. Whistler, BC’s Benita Peiffer led most of the way, but was out powered by Parry Sound, Ontario’s Shaylynn Loewen on the final straight. Peiffer had to settle for her second silver of the Games, behind Ontario’s gold.

    Laura Leclair put in a gutsy, comeback performance, to claim the bronze medal.

    Shaylynn Loewen: “I had really fast skis today, thanks to the wax tech’s. I had felt good throughout the races and when Laura went down, it opened up the race to everyone and I took advantage of it.”

    In the men’s final, Ontario’s Graham Ritchie another Parry Sound athlete and Pierre Grall-Johnson of Ottawa, led for most of the way including across the finish line for gold and silver.

    Reed Godfrey of Canmore, Alberta was in third most of the way, but lost the bronze to a great sprint by Winnipeg, Manitoba’s, Conor McGovern.

    Graham Ritchie: “The final was super fun, I was feeling great all day, my skis were super fast, thanks coaches. It was fun having my teammate Pierre, on the podium with me.”

    There was lots of excitement in the Para-Nordic skate races.

    In the standing men’s competition, it was another medal, gold this time for Manitoba, from Kenora’s Jesse  Bachinsky. Jesse had just returned from the World Para-Nordic Championships in Prince George, BC. The silver medal went to Kyle Barber of Sudbury, Ontario and bronze to Jesse Ehman of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

    Jesse Bachinsky, “ I had a fantastic warmup, and I loved the race course”.

    In the standing women’s race, Cindy Morin of Lévis, Quebec claimed gold, ahead of Céline Kavanaugh of Grand Falls, New Brunswick and Maya Jonas of BC.

    Lyne-Marie Bilodeau of Orford, Quebec, a rising star on the Para-Nordic circuit, won the women’s sitski competition. She was followed by Sudbury, Ontario’s Tanya Quesnel and Kryztle Shewchuck of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

    Pemberton, BC’s Ethan Hess a 2018 Paralympian, won the men’s sitski competition. He was joined on the podium by two Vancouver, BC athletes, Leo Sammarelli in silver and Paul Finkbeiner with bronze.

    Ethan Hess “The race went pretty good, a working race, not many places you could get a rest. Really proud to have swept the podium with my teammates from BC.”

    There has been a change to the schedule, to adapt to the projected weather. The Para-Nordic sprint races will now be held on Wednesday at 11:30 AM.