A lingering cold and sleep deprivation didn’t stop Janelle Greer from snagging gold at the Western Canadian Cross-Country Ski Championships last week.
Taking three medals between Thursday and Sunday at the Canmore, Alberta competition, Janelle began with a gold in a sprint race and after a day of rest she made it two in a row with a second Saturday in a five-kilometre event.
All her races were in the junior girls division.
“I think five-kilometre is one of the harder races because you don’t really have much time to pace yourself,” said Janelle. “You just have to push hard the whole way.”
Janelle ended the Westerns with a silver performance in a 10-kilometre race Sunday.
“I think 10-kilometre is my best race, but I was getting sicker throughout the week,” said Janelle. “By then – and from the other races – I was just really tired.
“But it was really close. The girl who won and I broke away from the pack and we somewhat skied together most of the time.
“Just on the last hill she sprinted up and I didn’t have the energy to.”
On Saturday, Janelle was joined on the podium by teammate Dahria Beatty, who took gold in the same five-kilometre event, but in the juvenile girls division.
“She’s been a very good skier in the past at the Arctic Winter Games and at local races and she even won medals at the Westerns a couple years ago,” said Yukon coach Alain Masson. “She suffered a knee injury in late November, so she couldn’t compete for a month and a half.
“It was good for her to see she could get back to the level she was at prior to the injury.”
Beatty also left with a matching pair of golds, hitting the top of the podium in a 7.5-kilometre free technique race Sunday, just three seconds ahead of the silver finisher.
“We’ve been watching her progress since she was 10 years old,” said Masson. “She’s always been one of the most competitive skiers in her age group.”
Yukon’s Jeff Wood brought in his team’s sixth medal, winning bronze in junior boys’ 15-kilometre event. Teammates Knute Johnsgaard and Lee Hawkings joined Wood in the top 10 finishers. Wood, Johnsgaard and another Yukoner, Logan Potter, also had top ten finishes in the junior boys five-kilometre race the day before.
“He wasn’t skiing earlier in the season as he was this past weekend,” said Masson of Wood. “But he’s a very accomplished skier Ã‰ He’s done well before, so that’s not a big surprise.”
Janelle’s brother, David Greer, who remained in Europe after the World Junior Cross Country Ski Championships in Praz de Lys, France last month, also did the Yukon proud when competing in a couple OPA Continental Cup events.
Racing in Schilpario, Italy, last weekend, David took seventh in a three-stage day pursuit.
David began with a less-than-stellar performance, finishing 27th in the sprint event.
“I’m not much of a sprinter so I wasn’t too concerned with the sprints,” said David.
However, the next day David made up lost ground finishing sixth in a 10-kilometre event, moving him up to ninth overall. He then ended the pursuit with the second-best time in a 15-kilometre race.
“It’s a shame I was so slow in the sprint,” said David. “I qualified 18th, but I fell in my first heat and I was late in that heat, and that’s what put me back in the 27th position. That’s a big disadvantage because I lost a lot of time there.”
The previous week in Zwiesel, Germany, David finished fourth in a 10-kilometre classic, five seconds out of third place.
“I think I was racing faster than I was at the World Juniors, which was not too good because I was hoping to peak at the World Juniors,” said David. “It was a little less calibre that the World Juniors but there was still a lot of people there.”
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