HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-At-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
L.A. Schmidt was awake early Saturday morning. Would you believe 2:30? That’s what a parent as well as grandparents and a girlfriend do when someone special is racing overseas on the World Cup ski cross circuit.
And they got the surprise of their lives, when Jared, the son of L.A. and Bevin Schmidt of Dunrobin, won his first medal in only his 10th career race on the elite World Cup circuit. He took the bronze in men’s ski cross in Bakuriana, Georgia.
Jared skied well in his three elimination races, advancing to his first-ever final on Saturday. That forced L.A. to exceed her allowable data on her phone, when she was watching the live streaming of all races on the CBC Sports website. Jared qualified 29th on Friday for the elimination round races.
In his fifth season as a ski-cross racer, Jared’s best previous result was a 29th in Idre Fjall, Sweden in January. This is his second year on the national team and he has learned quickly from the welcoming skiers of the accomplished Canadian team.
“The national team said we’ll take you and you’ll have to survive,” L.A. said in an interview. “But the Canadian team works so well together. I didn’t expect this. I thought there would be small bits of progress – top 40, top 20, top 10.”
Jared’s sister Hannah, who also is a national ski-cross racer, placed 13th in the women’s race in Bakuriani and 10th at the recent worlds. In Sunday’s mixed team event, Jared and Marielle Thompson were fifth and Hannah and Carson Cook took ninth.
Jared was thrilled with his first trip to the World Cup medal podium. That race also saw teammate Reece Howden of Cultus Lake, B.C., place 19th, which allowed him to win the overall men’s World Cup championship.
“Today was awesome,” Jared said, after finishing third. “It started yesterday (Friday) when we got a bunch of guys into heats and getting through that first round seemed solid. My first top-16, first podium, I am super stoked right now.”
Jared raced the final with reigning Olympic gold medallist and teammate Brady Leman, who crashed just before the finish line. Having Leman advance to the final also boosted Jared’s confidence and kept him calm.
“I didn’t flinch at the start. Our coaches and staff did a good job,” he told Martin Comtois of Le Droit. “I was just trying to have fun all day long. I knew how to keep my concentration through the descents, even if I found myself alongside world or Olympic champions.”
In a French-language interview with Sportcom, Jared added that “it was a pretty crazy day. I was feeling good and confident. I’m not totally surprised because I knew what it takes to get there, except that it’s just so exciting to get onto my first podium.”
Recruiting canoe coach
Meanwhile, the Ottawa River Canoe Club, which was founded by L.A. and Bevin (who also coach various paddling programs), is looking for a new head coach. But you better hurry to submit your resume as today (March 1) is the deadline.
Podium for wrestler Wiebe
The road to the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo took Stittsville’s Erica Wiebe to Kiev, Ukraine, on the weekend, where she won the women’s 76-kilogram bronze medal at the Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial tournament.
After defeating Ukraine’s Liudmyla Pavlovets and Hungary’s Zsanett Nemeth, Wiebe lost her semifinal to Aiperi Medet Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan, but beat Ukraine’s Anna Melnyk for the bronze medal. All matches ended by pinfall.
Quirie impresses in NCAA swimming
David Quirie, a freshman at the University of Florida, placed fifth in the men’s 1,650-yard freestyle timed final at the ACC swimming championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. He finished in 14:57.82, paring 19 seconds off his seed time.
Quirie’s placing was the best in the mile for a Seminole swimmer since 2013 and was the fourth fastest swim in school history and the fastest since Mateo DeAngulo set the school record of 14:42.77 at the 2012 NCAA championships.
“David has worked so hard and really deserves this,” said Florida State head coach Neal Studd. “He’s a smart kid and swims really smart, too. He just kept building that swim. Under 15 (minutes) as a freshman is exceptional.”
Quirie also was fourth in the B final for 12th overall in the men’s 500-yard freestyle in 4:19.40, and swam the C final of the 200-yard freestyle to place 18th overall in 1:35.43.
Top-30s for area athletes at nordic worlds
At the world cross-country skiing championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, Gatineau’s Antoine Cyr has posted impressive early results: seventh in team sprint with Graham Ritchie (the only U23 team in the 10-team final) and 27th in the skiathlon.
Cyr also was 31st in the men’s sprint and fifth among U23 skiers. Katherine Stewart-Jones of Chelsea and Nakkertok Nordic was 28th in the women’s skiathlon and 41st in women’s sprint., while Laura Leclair of Chelsea Nordiq was 48th and 51st respectively.
Zakutney 2nd at virtual Elite Canada gymnastics
Penn State University grad Sam Zakutney of Ottawa, who now trains in Laval, Que., placed second overall in the virtual men’s Elite Canada competition. He was first on high bar, second in vault, third on parallel bars, rings and pommel horse and fourth on floor.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.