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NTDC-Thunder Bay skiers grab podium spots

Katherine Stewart-Jones and Alannah MacLean take silver and bronze in the senior women's five-kilometre classic race, while Lisle Compton and Annika Richardson repeated the result on the junior side.

LAPPE, Ont. – Katherine Stewart-Jones on Sunday added a silver medal to her 2018 Ski Nationals stash.

Stewart-Jones, a member of the National Team Development Centre-Thunder Bay squad, crossed the finish line in 15:25.4 in the senior women’s five-kilometre interval start classic race, a day after teaming with OUA champion Zoe Williams of Carleton University to take gold in the team sprint event.

“Five Ks are really tough. They’re really fast,” Stewart-Jones said after collecting her breath following the race, won by Quebec’s Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt in a time of 15:07.5.

“I went really hard off the line and I definitely felt it about two-and-a-half K in. I was really heavy and it hurt a lot. But I think I pushed through that and skied as well as I could. I’m happy with how it went.”

Stewart-Jones said the weather helped the conditions. Cold temperatures overnight left the tracks hard, allowing skiers to pick up the pace.

“It’s easy to kick up the hills. It’s good for a course like this, where there are a lot of steep climbs.”

American Caitlin Gregg, winner of the Sleeping Giant Loppet earlier this month, was the runner-up, 13 seconds behind Bouffard-Nesbitt and earned the second-place prize money, but was ineligible for the podium.

As a result, Stewart-Jones’s NTDC teammate Alannah MacLean took bronze, finishing in 15:27.3

In the junior division, NTDC-TB’s Lisle Compton and Annika Richardson took silver and bronze, ceding top spot to British Columbia’s Hannah Mehain, who topped the field in a time of 15:34.4.

Richardson, who followed Williams onto the course, said the Lappe Nordic Ski Centre course set up perfectly for her style of skiing.

“The hills here are super fun and punchy and there’s often just enough recovery in between that you can hopefully feel as punch as the last one in the next hill. There’s definitely some tough climbs out there,” the Vancouver native said.

The men’s race, a 10-kilometre event, was captured by former NDC-Thunder Bay skier Scott Hill in 26:45.1.

Skibec’s Alexis Dumas took second, 7.2 seconds slower, while Olympian Knute Johnsgaard, part the first Canadian relay team to reach the podium in a World Cup distance event, was third in 26.57.1.

NTDC-Thunder Bay’s Evan Palmer-Charrette was the top local skier, coming in sixth in a time of 27:09.9, followed closely by veteran Michael Somppi, who took seventh in 27:14.2, 29.1 seconds off the pace.

“I skied as well as I could,” said Palmer-Charrette. “I didn’t quite put the effort out I would have liked, the full maximum you need for a good 10 K, but overall I was happy with the race.

“It’s great skiing. A little cold for nationals, but for classic it’s about as good as it gets – sunny skies and firm tracks.”

The junior men’s race was captured by Quebec’s Antoine Cyr, whose time of 26:46.9 was the second fastest of the day overall.

Alberta’s Reed and Ty Godfrey took second and third respectively. Levi Nadlersmith was the top local skier, the NDTC-TB athlete the fifth-fastest in the junior race in a time of 28:01.4. Thunder Bay’s Graham Ritchie was seventh.

Racing continues on Tuesday.