Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott was missing his top gear at the FIS Nordic U23 World Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, last week.
The Team Canada skier was looking for his strongest result in Saturday’s 30-kilometre skiathlon – 15-kilometres of classic followed by 15-kilometres of free – but it didn’t pan out. Abbott finished in 59th.
“I felt pretty much the same in the skiathlon as the other races this week,” said Abbott in an email to the News. “There wasn’t a lot of snap in my legs and I had some trouble settling into and maintaining a race pace I was happy with. I felt like I asked more out of my body than it was willing to give and I paid for it.”
It was Abbott’s first time competing at the U23 worlds and his last year of eligibility.
The 22-year-old placed 59th out of 68 racers and was one of 13 skiers who did not get to finish, getting lapped by the front-runners.
Not getting to finish his final race at the championships didn’t sit well with Abbott.
“I couldn’t recover that well on easier sections of the course and generally felt fatigued,” said Abbott. “I was incredibly frustrated with my result. Getting lapped and not being able to finish a race is not a good experience.
“For most of the skate portion of the race I could see the top two Russians gaining ground on me. Once it became apparent that they would lap me it became a fight for every kilometre before they passed me.
“The first three laps of the classic course were pretty hectic, I felt reasonably good at that point and was hanging on to the back of the lead pack, staying out of trouble. As soon as the pace picked up on the fourth lap I tried to turn it up and had nothing.”
Abbott placed 63rd in the 15-kilometre skate race on Thursday, finishing as the top Canadian in the event for U23 males.
He also finished 47th out of 72 skiers in the 1.6-kilometre sprint to start the championship on Jan. 22.
“The ski culture in Liberec, Czech Republic is different from any place I’ve been,” said Abbott. “It was common to see people walking around shopping malls with skis over their shoulder and ski boots on their feet. Skiing is free for the public there and the municipalities cover the costs of grooming and maintaining trails.”
In addition to being a member of the Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club, Abbott is member of the Yukon Elite Squad, a five-person Whitehorse-based team currently in its first season competing.
Abbott qualified for Team Canada with strong performances at a Haywood NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, at the start of the month. He placed third for U23 skiers in the two distance races at the NorAm.
Abbott and other Whitehorse skiers will be in Quebec for the Easter Canadian Championships this weekend.
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