By Dan Plouffe
A blue wave swept over Crabbe Mountain near Fredericton, N.B. yesterday as Team Quebec claimed every one of the top-6 positions in the 61-athlete male super-g alpine skiing competition at the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
And Luka McKinlay was right in the middle of it, scoring Ottawa’s first medal in week 2 of the Games with his third-place performance.
The 16-year-old Louis-Riel high school student clocked a time of 44.82 seconds – .45 back of teammate Philippe Savard’s winning time and .19 ahead of fourth-place Louis-Thomas Cantin.
Though he’s from Ottawa, McKinlay skis out of Mont-Tremblant, which led him to wear Quebec colours instead of Ontario red. His older brother Thomas is currently competing on their home hill for a Nor-Am Cup race, fresh off a solid performance at Camp Fortune on Feb. 24 when the 18-year-old placed 17th out of 72.
A provincial champion in the the super-g last year, Luka McKinlay earned the seventh and final berth on the Quebec team from a field of 37 vying for selection at their Canada Games trials. The podium pileup showed the powerhouse Quebec team is definitely ready to flex its muscles on the slopes.
The Ottawa Sports Pages hopes to catch up with McKinlay for an interview on Wednesday, when he’ll be back in action for the giant slalom, so we’ll look forward to telling you more soon.
Young cross-country skier enjoying every moment of Canada Games, just like every time she’s outside exercising
In order for the Canada Games to have an equal number of athletes involved in its summer and winter editions, some sports on the summer Olympic calendar are included in the Canada Winter Games.
Addison Frank loves being involved in competitive sports both in the summertime and wintertime, though the indoor summer sports offered on the CWG programme don’t suit her – she’s gotta be outdoors, no matter the season.
One of two 16-year-olds competing in cross-country skiing for Team Ontario in PEI, Frank recently started competitive road cycling with the Ottawa Bicycle Club. She’s found she loves her new pursuit for many of the same reasons she loves skiing.
“I really enjoy just being able to get on my bike from my house and go wherever I like. It’s like every time I get on my bike, I know I’m gonna be going on a new adventure, which is pretty cool,” explained the Grade 11 Nepean High School student. “Skiing is kind of the same thing. I really enjoy just being in nature. The snow and the trees are really pretty, and it’s just a time where I can be by myself and feel relaxed.
“And on the racing side of it, I really enjoy all the people that I’ve met and the places I’ve traveled. I enjoy pushing myself in every race and setting goals and achieving the goals.”
As the Games approached, there was some worry that PEI may be better suited to host a cycling race than a ski race this February, but with some colder weather and preserved snow, the Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park venue has ultimately drawn rave reviews from the participants.
“I really enjoyed the course,” Frank stated during an interview with the Ottawa Sports Pages‘ Dan Plouffe after her first race of the Games.
The loop for the female 7.5 kilometre classic interval start race was shorter than she’s accustomed to, which meant there were spectators lining the sides the whole way.
“It was interesting,” added the Nakkertok Nordic skier. “It feels different than anything I’ve ever done.”
Frank earned the top result out of the closely-bunched female skiers from Ottawa, finishing 16th in 24:16.2 – just ahead of fellow Nakkertok athlete Clara Hegan in 18th (24:32.2) and Kanata Nordic’s Helen McCulligh in 19th (24:44.0).
“I’m really trying to learn as much as I possibly can,” noted Frank. “It’s great experience, and really cool to race against the top U20s in the country. I have a lot to learn from a lot of the girls that I’m racing against, and hopefully this experience will help me improve.”
Ottawa region’s cross-country ski success breeds more
In the male 10 km classic interval start, Ottawa’s Robin Mason cracked the top-10 in the 66-athlete field, placing ninth, while fellow Nakkertok skier Isaac Fortin was 26th and Skinouk’s Antoine Gauthier did not finish.
On top of the big Ottawa crew of six cross-country skiers, there are also a bunch more from the Outaouais region.
A pair of the Ottawa skiers’ Quebec-based friends from Chelsea Nordiq hit the podium in the interval start events. Tory Audet was untouchable in winning the female race in 22:25.3, while Ry Prior took bronze in the male event.
“The sport’s not that huge, so you really get to know everyone in both provinces quite well,” highlighted Mason, noting the list of national and international-calibre athletes from the region continues to increase relentlessly.
“It’s been really fun to grow up in that atmosphere, and it’s been a big part of my motivation to continue with the sport beyond high school,” he adds.
Mason moved to Calgary after finishing high school at Glebe Collegiate to study economics at the University of Calgary and join the Alpine Insurance Alberta World Cup Academy program in Canmore, AB.
The Canada Winter Games are the 19-year-old’s second multi-sport competition in as many months. He’s fresh off competing at January’s FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, where his top result was 24th in the men’s 30 km free.
“It was really fun,” recounted Mason, who enjoyed testing himself alongside older athletes. “It was a really fun atmosphere – kind of similar to this, but on a larger scale.”
Meeting athletes from other provinces and from other sports is a highlight both Frank and Mason picked out.
Frank spoke to the Sports Pages on her way back from watching the Ontario female hockey team’s afternoon game against Nova Scotia, where Ontario improved to 2-0 with another dominant 6-0 victory. (Kanata’s Ashley Allard picked up an assist in the contest, while her Nepean Wildcats teammate Naomi Baechler recorded the shutout with 12 saves in net.)
“I like how there’s like sports happening on the campus that we’re staying at,” Frank said of UPEI. “It’s just been a really fun experience so far.”
Cross-country skiing competition continues today with the sprints event.
Day 12 Preview: Archer aiming for gold
Attending the Canada Games is a dream-come-true for many athletes, and that’s true for archer Durvishan Thananchayan, though he already realized a childhood dream when he picked up a real bow and arrow for the first time.
“When I was young, I pretended I was shooting imaginary arrows. I would shoot at trees and branches,” Thananchayan said in a pre-Games interview with High Achievers columnist Martin Cleary, reflecting back to when he was about six years old and looking for adventure in his backyard.
He wasn’t aware of the sport of archery at the time. But he loved the idea of working with an imaginary bow and arrow and hitting his target at its epicentre.
Six years after hitting every tree branch in his backyard with his invisible arrows, Thananchayan was introduced to archery for real and he’s now making a real athletic career out of his dedication to the Summer Olympic sport.
The 19-year-old first-year computer science student at Carleton University will begin competition today at the PEI Canada Winter Games in both the individual recurve and mixed team events, which run until Friday and Saturday respectively at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
“It’s a great opportunity to represent Ontario,” added the Earl of March High School graduate. “I hope to shoot my best and hopefully win the gold medal.”
Also in action today will be Ottawa’s six-pack of cross-country skiers for the male and female sprints. The first heats start at 9 a.m. ET.
The alpine skiers get started even earlier, with the first athletes set to descend the GS course at 8:35 a.m.
And the Ontario female hockey team will look to keep their momentum rolling when they take on Alberta to conclude pool play at 6:30 p.m.
Event livestreams are available at www.canadagames.ca/watch.
You can find links to schedules, and all of our Games coverage in one place, through our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games central webpage:
(This article was first sent to subscribers of the free Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it below!)
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