Crawford, Newell strong on Frozen Thunder
Chandra Crawford narrowly edged Perianne Jones in a photo finish while Andy Newell double poled his way to victory over Devon Kershaw at the Winsport Frozen Thunder Classic sprint Race, Friday (Oct. 26) at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
Jones had the lead in the women’s A final 100 metres, however, Crawford managed to catch her just before the finish line. Ida Sargent finished third.
Crawford breezed through the heats and went out just trying to have fun on her home course.
“The course was fun; it’s the perfect course for us. It’s not so hilly that you can’t train on it all day and it has lots of corners,” Crawford said.
Following the race, she had nothing but praise for her teammate and training partner.
“Perianne Jones is a superb athlete. I’m really lucky to be training with her for years, especially this summer. She’s really been pushing our team, making the team faster.”
Jones appeared to have the win wrapped up, but she let up slightly, opening the door for Crawford.
“Coming down the final stretch, I thought I kinda had it, but I’m learning,” Jones said.
She reveled in the great conditions.
“It’s mid-February on snow out here. This is the best Frozen Thunder we’ve ever had,” Jones said.
On the men’s side, Newell gambled with his skate skis in the final, which proved to be the right choice in winter-like conditions. He finished nearly four seconds ahead of Kershaw for the win. Kris Freeman was third.
“My classic skis weren’t running great today. We don’t have our full fleet of race skis here and I’m typically a strong double-poler, so it was fun with some nice big uphills to go against people on classics,” Newell said. “It’s a real treat to ski in real winter conditions. To have this level of racing in October is pretty awesome. We don’t get to do this very often.”
Kershaw decided to stay on classic skis, however, the decision proved costly.
“He’s such a beast. With such fast skis and double poling, I had no chance,” Kershaw said. “Today, I thought the course would favour classic skis as the heats went on, but that was entirely not the case.”
Given a chance to race competitively in October and test himself against the Americans was something Kershaw didn’t want to give up.
“It’s better than a NorAm field. It’s a nice little time trial and was really cool that the Americans came to train in our backyard,” Kershaw said. “Andy’s medalled three times on the World Cup and he’s a sprint specialist. Any chance to work out next to him is a super positive experience.
In the B final, American Patrick O’Brien defeated Eric Packer, with Canada’s Patrick Stewart-Jones finishing third. The U.S.A. also topped the women’s B final, with Liz Stephen defeating Australia’s Esther Bottomley and Banff’s Heidi Widmer.
About half of Canada’s national team competed in the time trials, which looped around the kilometre-and-a-half Frozen Thunder track at the Nordic Centre.
Full results are available at www.zone4.ca
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