Ski racing fans and athletes always love a good sprint finish. On Saturday at the Yukon cross-country ski championships, they got two for the price of one.
After a hard-fought comeback in the midget girls 5-km freestyle race, Amanda Thomson charged the finish line with teammates Hannah Jirousek and Regan Fuerstner, earning a shared silver medal with Jirousek in the process.
“We (Fuerstner and Jirousek) skied together the whole way, and Amanda caught up on the second lap,” said Fuerstner, who managed to out-stretch her competitors at the line for the win.
“Around the second lap, I caught up just before a big hill,” Thomson said.
“It was also down the last big hill and into the stadium,” Jirousek said.
“We were all pushing ourselves, and we all wanted to come in first. It was really exciting,” she said.
Skiing together as they did should be a good warm up for the girls, all three of whom are off to Fairbanks for their first Arctic Winter Games.
“I’m feeling really good. I’m excited to see the results from today. Fairbanks is going to be really exciting too. I think there’s going to be lots of people,” Amanda said.
The other high-octane finish came in the junior boys 7.5-km freestyle race.
Race winner Marcus Deuling gapped the field early on, and skied a mostly solitary race to take the win in 22 minutes, 22 seconds flat.
But the battle for second place played out in the final 100 meters, with Hudson Lucier just barely besting Mac Prawdzik at the line, for times of 23:43 and 23:44 respectively.
“It was really nice to sprint to the finish with Mac. I really love that stuff. I led for the first lap and then led Mac and Simon for the rest of the race,” Lucier said after the race.
The junior boys trio won’t be headed to Fairbanks, though. Instead they’re off to Corner Brook, Newfoundland for the 2014 Canadian championships.
“The year has been great so far. I’ve had great guys to train with. We’ve all pushed each other really hard and we’re really ready for nationals,” Deuling said.
“I’m really looking forward to the 15-km classic,” Lucier said. “The season has been great. We went to Easterns, in Ottawa. I came from Ottawa and I knew those trails really well, so it was a good time there.”
Yukon Elite Squad member Knute Johnsgaard skied a lonely 27 minute, 29 second race in the open men’s 10 km. As the only competitor, he started with the junior boys, but took off solo after the first few hundred metres.
Johnsgaard said he’s recovering from a minor illness but is excited for the competition at Canadian championships in a few days’ time.
“Today was pretty fun. It’s not very often that I get to do a race at home anymore. It’s fun to sometimes just race against yourself. It’s good practice to race your own race,” he said.
Fellow Yukon Elite racer Collin Abbott missed the Yukon Championships because he was already en route to Corner Brook to get ready for the nationals. Johnsgaard met up with him and the rest of the Yukon team this week to prepare as well.
“I’m kind of just rebounding now and trying to get my shape back. Today was okay, so I think I’m on the way up in time for Nationals,” he said.
For a full list of Saturday’s results, head to zone4.ca.
Contact Jesse Winter at