The longest sprint race so far this season for Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott has also been the most important.
The 22-year-old Team Canada skier placed 47th out of 72 skiers in the 1.6-kilometre sprint at the FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, on Tuesday.
“The course was changed yesterday to a longer, more difficult course,” said Abbott in an email to the News. “It was the longest sprint I’ve done this year and my energy simply didn’t last all the way to the finish line.
“The level of competition here is very high and I’m excited to have the chance to test myself against the best in the world.”
Abbott, who is competing in the men’s U23 division, was the second Canadian out of two, with Canada’s Patrick Stewart-Jones placing 39th. Stewart-Jones, who skis out of the Nakkertok Nordic Club in Ottawa, is known more as a sprint racer.
Canada’s two other men’s U23 racers missed the race because of illness.
“I’ve been very happy with how I felt in the week leading up to this first race,” said Abbott. “I’m feeling snappy and energetic while training and mentally I’m in a good, optimistic spot.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t reflected in today’s race.”
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.
He is the only Yukon skier at the junior/U23 world championships this year, down from five last year.
Abbott will be back in action for the 15-kilometre skate on Thursday followed by the 30-kilometre skiathlon on Saturday to end the championships.
“There are two more races to go and I feel like today was a good tune-up for them,” said Abbott. “I’m mostly looking forward to the 30-kilometre pursuit at the end of the week. The 15-kilometre skate race on Thursday isn’t my strongest event but I’m confident that my fitness is good enough that I can still be competitive in it.”
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 and sixth in the sprint at the NorAm.
Abbott is no stranger to international competition. He has also competed internationally in orienteering, representing Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships three times between 2008 and 2010.
Contact Tom Patrick at