For Yukoners, Monday was a day to remember.
David Greer destroyed his competition in the men’s 10-kilometre classic race, and Bryn Knight logged a third-place finish in the women’s 7.5-kilometre race at the Canada Winter Games cross-country skiing venue.
Greer’s home-trail performance of 27:01.3 at Mount McIntyre was 53 seconds faster than silver medalist Curtis Merry of Alberta.
Even Greer seemed surprised by the margin.
“I have no idea, to tell you the truth,” said Greer, when asked how he pulled off such a feat. “It’s a rare opportunity to win a gold medal; I didn’t think it would be by that much. I guess I just had the race of my life.”
Greer said he had never pushed himself like he did on Monday.
“The first lap, I think I went a little too hard,” said Greer. “Everyone did … I managed to have enough energy to keep going at that pace, while everyone else slowed down on the second lap. I felt I could just barely keep up the same pace.”
“In the last part of the race I gagged twice and nearly puked — I couldn’t have gone much faster, that’s all I could give it — so I’m happy with that,”
Because of the individual start, skiers rely on coaches scattered along the course route to know how they’re doing.
“I got a split about four kilometres into the race and I was eight seconds behind the leader,” said Greer. “I guess that gave me some motivation and I started hammering.”
Coach Alain Masson said Monday’s results were better than he dreamed of.
“That’s unbelievable, to finish that strong, to gain that much time — it’s amazing,”
“I thought there was a outside chance of a medal if he skied the race of his life, but I didn’t expect him to do that well.”
An interesting side note to the men’s 10-kilometre race is that all top three finishers were 18 or under — Canada Games skiers can be up to 23 years old.
Other Yukoners finishing the race were: John Parry, 11th; Sam Lindsey 13th; Colin Abbott, 19th; Ray Sabo, 28th.
Bryn Knight’s bronze performance in the 7.5-kilometre race added to the sweetness of the day for the Yukon Ski Team. She completed the course in 23:32.6.
“I’m amazed, I didn’t expect it at all,” said Knight after the medal presentations. “I finished 30 to 40 seconds behind the winner. I’m really happy with how my race went.”
Knight has had trouble with injuries and illness during the last few seasons, and Masson said it was great that she could finally show what she’s got.
“I’m so happy for Bryn,” he said. “She stuck to it and came back — it’s great.”
Other Yukoners finishing the race were: Janelle Greer, 11th; Emily Nishikawa, 14th; Sarah Murray, 26th; Heidi Brook, 29th.
There may have been some home trail advantage for the local athletes, but ski preparation played a part as well.
“Yukon probably had one of the best waxes today, our coach is an unbelievable wax technician,” said skier Sam Lindsey.
The -20 temperatures and fresh snow didn’t crimp the Yukon style.
“These conditions are ideal for us, we’ve been in this cold for two weeks, we know the snow, we know the course, so it’s a great advantage for team Yukon, the athletes and the coaches; we know exactly how to prepare the skis,” said Masson.
Cross-country skiing continues with sprints today, freestyle races on Thursday and relays on Friday.