Alberta, BC rule the trail in sprint races

While two Yukon skiers pulled medals in Monday’s long-distance races, Tuesday’s sprints were a different story.

While two Yukon skiers pulled medals in Monday’s long-distance races, Tuesday’s sprints were a different story.

The South ruled in the fast-paced kick and glide of the 1,200-metre races.

“I had a good start, but I couldn’t quite keep up,” said Yukon skier John Parry on his way to “warm down” with a slow glide around Mt. Mac’s trails.

“I felt that I skied tactically well, but I just didn’t have that other gear that those other guys seemed to have.”

Parry finished the speedy race in 22nd place in a field of 51 competitors.

He competed in past Arctic Winter Games, but says that experience doesn’t compare to the Canada Games.

“There’s a lot of depth here, some really good sprinters and really good competitions,” said Parry, who prefers the long-distance races coming up later in the week.

Despite the loss, he felt the energy of the hometown crowd like a strong wind at his back.

“It’s amazing they just seem to pull you through the course and everyone knows who you are.”

“I’ve never had this, it’s just unbelievable,” he added.

The sprint race is a swift run around a quick loop with a tough climb half way through.

The heavy snow, which began earlier in the morning, was filling in the trail’s tracks and slowing down the races.

But the mean conditions didn’t slow team Alberta, which pulled in the top three medals in the women’s breakneck final heat that left two Ontario skiers eating snow dust.

“I’m just so stoked — it’s pretty awesome,” said Heidi Widmer who finished with silver.

“We didn’t really plan it out, but it looks like we did,” she said of the all-Alberta finish.

“We have a really strong team and our coaches are doing a really good job with our skis, so we we’re able to pull it together,” said gold medalist Kathy Jaques, between sucking in breaths at the finish line.

“You need to know when to go hard and when to relax until the sprint to the finish because you never know who’s coming from behind.”

Meanwhile BC struck gold in a harried heat in the men’s sprint as Christopher Werrell crossed the finish line with his arms raised in victory.

“It’s a really good course for me; it’s got the climb and the long flat push,” said the 22-year-old skier.

After ending the race well before any of the other skiers in his heat, he showed off the number “1” on his jersey and raised his arms high in the air.

“It’s definitely hard because you’re competing in heat after heat and I just felt I was getting stronger and stronger.”

Seventeen-year-old Yukoner Bryn Knight advanced to the semis where she skied a tough race, but fell behind ending the event 12th in a field of 53 skiers.

Yukon’s Emily Nishikawa finished 18th and Janelle Greer in 23rd, while Heidi O’Connor-Brook placed 36th.

In the men’s, Sam Lindsey ended in 45th place, Colin Abbott in 40th, David Greer in 29th and Ray Sabo in 20th.

Races continue on Thursday with the 10- and 15-kilometre events.