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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Cross-country ski champion Zoe Williams tips hat to wax technicians, volunteers

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

WEEKEND WRAP: Zoe Williams of Cantley, Que., was a triple medallist (two gold, one silver) during this past weekend’s Eastern Canadian cross-country ski championships on her home Nakkertok Nordic course, but she desperately felt the need to share her opening victory on Saturday.

On the middle day of the three-day championships, which attracted more than 550 skiers, the weather was a big topic of conversation. The temperature was above zero Celsius and it was raining to start the day. By the afternoon, skiers faced bone-chilling cold temperatures and heavy snow.

Williams, who consulted Nakkertok’s wax technicians to have the proper, fast skis for such challenging and inconsistent conditions, managed to win the women’s classic sprint by an 11-second margin over Mont Ste. Anne’s Marie Corriveau, who was the fastest qualifier. But Williams couldn’t accept all the glory for the victory.

“It was fun, but a crazy day,” Williams offered, after the sprint around the 1.4-klilometre circuit.

The Carleton University Ravens alum believed “the real champions were the waxers, dealing with the ever-changing weather and the volunteers who make this event happen,” Williams wrote on her Twitter account.

In the sprint, Williams was followed by Corriveau, Hannah Shields of Nakkertok in third place, and a trio of Nakkertok juniors – Lea Skerrett of the Université Laval, Magalie Daoust of the University of Ottawa and Katya Semeniuk of the Alpine Insurance Alberta World Cup Academy.

Skerrett and Daoust were declared the women’s U20 gold and silver medallists respectively based on their results.

Williams’ second Eastern Canadian championship win came Sunday in the women’s 15-kilometre interval start free technique race, where she raced to a 22-second lead after the opening 7.5 kilometres and scored a 24-second win over Quebec City’s Emmanuelle Simard with a time of 44 minutes, 22.2 seconds. Shields was third in 45:36.9.

Sienna Brennan-Rabb of Chelsea, Que., placed second in the women’s U20 15-kilometre race in 45:22.3, while Daoust was third in 45:36.4.

“It was gorgeous out there, but a little cold, which made for some very fast racing,” Williams said. “It was a little sketchy on the downhills, but I like downhills, so that was fun for me.”

On Friday, Semeniuk was untouchable in the women’s interval start classic 10-kilometre race, posting the fastest times for both five-kilometre loops and winning in 33:04.6. Williams was second in 34:09.1. Skerrett took second in the women’s U20 10-kilometre test in 35:02.4 as well as the university race.

“It was super good. I could really push myself and it was really fun to be back on my home trails,” Semeniuk said following her win.

Pembroke Nordic’s Guillaume Pelchat of the National Team Development Centre in Thunder Bay was the region’s top men’s skier on the weekend, collecting three victories in the U20 class.

After winning Friday’s interval start classic 10-kilometre race in 28:52.4, which also placed the Lakehead University student/athlete second in the university race, Pelchat won the classic sprint on Saturday and the 15-kilometre interval start free technique race in 38:24.2 on Sunday.

The 15-kilometre race standings also showed Pelchat finished second in the men’s university race, while Brennan-Rabb, a CEGEP student/athlete, was runner-up in the women’s race.

Nakkertok’s Robin Mason was second to Pelchat in 30:01.8 in the U20 interval start classic 10-kilometre race.

In the age-group races, Clara Hegan of Nakkertok was unstoppable, winning all three of her women’s U18 races. She captured the classic sprint on Friday ahead of runner-up Semeniuk and fourth-place finisher Mya Marshall of Chelsea Nordiq. Hegan also was the leader in the endurance races, winning the five-kilometre test in 17:31.0 on Saturday and the 10-kilometre challenge on Sunday in 29:47.1.

Mathieu Lacasse of Skinouk was a consistent finisher with three second-place results in the men’s U16 division – classic sprint, classic interval start five-kilometre race in 23:43.1 and the free technique interval start 10-kilometre race in 27:35.3.

In Friday’s classic sprints, Zari Hoferek of Nakkertok won the men’s U18 race and teammate Owen Brooks was fifth, while Addison Frank of Nakkertok was second in the women’s U16 race. Graeme Abbott of Kanata Nordic finished sixth in the men’s U16 sprint final.

CAMM BROTHERS COLLIDE AT ONTARIO MEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP

Brothers Mathew and Jason Camm, who were raised in Rockland, ON., came close, but missed direct opportunities to win the Ontario men’s curling championship in Port Elgin and qualify for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier March 4-13 in Lethbridge.

But Mathew, who trains in Cornwall, still has a chance to reach the Canadian championship through the back door, if the John Epping rink is selected as one of the three Wild Card teams for the nationals.

Once all the men’s provincial and territorial champions have been determined, Curling Canada will invite the top three non-qualified rinks to the Canadians. The Epping rink of Ryan Fry, Mathew Camm and Brent Laing are listed 10th on the Canadian Team Ranking System standings, but after the provincial skips who have qualified for the Brier are withdrawn, the Toronto-based team is fourth.

The potential three Brier Wild Card teams could be Newfoundland Labrador’s Brad Gushue, Saskatchewan’s Matt Dunstone and Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson with Epping as the first reserve. Gushue, the Canadian ranking list leader, is representing Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

After winning his first two games, but losing his next two, Jason Camm of the Navan Curling Club scored four consecutive victories in the triple-knockout Ontario championship, including a tight 9-6 quarter-final decision over Sam Mooibroek with a double takeout and stay for three on his final rock in the 10th end.

But in the Ontario semifinals, Camm fell 9-4 to Epping in a scheduled 10-end match that was conceded after six ends. The other members of the Camm rink were Matthew Hall, Cameron Goodkey and Jordie Lyon-Hatcher. Epping has defeated Camm in their past eight meetings over the last two years.

Epping scored three in the second end for a 3-1 advantage over Team Howard of Penetanguishene, ON., in the final, but he wouldn’t score any more points over the next eight ends. Scott Howard, who moved up to skip from his regular third position as his dad Glenn missed the provincials with a knee injury, counted a single in the first, two in the seventh and stole one in each of the ninth and 10th ends for the 5-3 victory.

Team Howard was completed by Adam Spencer (replacing Scott at third), Ottawa resident Dave Mathers and Tim March, and won its first Ontario title since 2017.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 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 martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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