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Big sprint day for Canmore's McKeever at World Cup finale

The final races of the Canmore World Cup are in the books

CANMORE – Four Canadians raced in the sprint classic finals during the final day of the Cross Country World Cup Tuesday at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

However, Tuesday (Feb. 13) was highlighted by Klaebo-mania, as fan-favourite Johannes Klaebo of Norway won a second gold medal in Canmore by out-sprinting Richard Jouve (silver) of France and Norwegian teammate Erik Valnes (bronze) in the speedy men’s race.

Linn Savhn of Sweden won the women’s sprint, which was her first gold in Canmore and second medal at the Canadian event. The Swede turned on the jets in the final straight to beat Norway’s Kristine Stavaas Skistad (silver), who won Saturday’s freestyle sprint, and Swedish teammate Jonna Sundling, by more than two seconds.

Quick Results: Canmore World Cup - Feb. 13

Advancing to the top-30 heats were Canadian men Antoine Cyr, Xavier McKeever and Pierre Grall-Johnson. 

The youngest of the trio, 20-year-old McKeever of Canmore, stood out on the day like his posters around town with a World Cup personal-best 19th. 

“I think I did a really good job of finding my space and keeping my space and defending it. Usually on the World Cup, if you’re not defending your space, you’re getting it taken from you,” said McKeever. “I think today was a really good confidence booster for me to see that, OK, I can do this. I can ski in a World Cup heat well.

“At the end of the day, I’m still super stoked with today and to have my World Cup PB at home on a course and have one of those days is super special.”

Cyr, Canada's top-ranked man, finished 28th and Grall-Johnson, adding another top-30 finish in Canmore, was 29th.

Olympian Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt was the only Canadian woman to make it into the top-30 heats.

Living and training in Canmore, Bouffard-Nesbitt said lost momentum and positioning and made a mistake “that a Canadian should never make.”

“Which is lead into the downhill, so I lost my fourth position and got sling-shotted by fifth into sixth,” she said. “Honestly, it was really painful to be sitting in a tuck and to just watch someone pass with so much speed and there’s nothing you can do about it while you’re in that tuck because you can’t skate, you can’t double pole, you’re just stuck watching them so that was really hard for me and to come into the finish in sixth was not the most fun, but the crowd was awesome so that made up for it.”

She ended up finishing 30th. 

Katie Weaver, who also lives in Canmore, just missed qualifying for the quarterfinals with 31st place.

Robin McKeever, national team head coach, said: “Four athletes into the heats is a really big deal for us, so it’s good to have that at home on the last day."

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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