X-C Canada: Beckie Scott wows home crowd with second-place effort


X-C Canada: Beckie Scott wows home crowd with second-place effort{mosimage}Beckie Scott stole the show in front of thousands of screaming Canadian fans on Saturday, placing second in the women’s 15-kilometer pursuit race at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Center near Vernon, B.C. It was the first time a World Cup cross-country skiing event has been held in Canada in more than a decade.

“I felt so loose and comfortable all week and I just wanted to perform really well today,” said the Olympic gold medalist, who posted a time of 42 minutes, 28.1 seconds. “I am so excited, and to do this in front of my friends and family who have come here to watch is perfect.”

Scott, who began her World Cup and Olympic journey nearly 11 years ago in Thunder Bay, Ont. – the last time a World Cup race was held on Canadian snow – grabbed an early lead on the pack in the mass start pursuit race, which combines 7.5 kilometers of classic skiing with an additional 7.5 kilometers of skate skiing. Athletes enter a transition zone between the two legs to exchange skis.

While the Canadian speedster carried the lead into the final lap, she raced neck-and-neck with World Cup leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway down the stretch home. The Norwegian edged Scott in the final dash to the line to claim the gold medal with a time of 42:27.8, while Hilde Pedersen of Norway rounded out the top three in the bronze medal position (42:30.4.

“I felt really strong throughout the race, and it was important for me to get off to a great start during this Olympic year,” said Scott, after embracing her husband and former United States Olympic skier Justin Wadsworth, and her tearful father, Walter, who were waiting in the finish area. “In 2002, I began my World Cup season the exact same way, so hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.”

While Scott reclaimed a position on the podium in her first World Cup race of the season, Canada’s Sara Renner also powered her way into the stadium area skating at the top of the pack. The Canmore, Alberta, native finished in 12th position after posting a time of 43:05.7.

Meanwhile, Ivan Babikov, who recently joined the Canadian program from Russia, made some history of his own on Saturday for the Canucks while competing in his first-ever World Cup race. The 25-year-old, who now resides in Canmore, Alberta, finished 14th in the men’s 30-kilometer pursuit race with a time of 1:17:27.8. Babikov was in the top six until the final lap when he crashed after an Italian athlete stepped on his ski. It was one of the strongest individual performances for the Canadian men’s team.

“It was my first World Cup and I had little expectations today. I just wanted to ski really well,” said Babikov, who is awaiting his Canadian citizenship. “It was unfortunate that I crashed on my final lap, but I skied very well today and I am so pleased and happy with my race.”

The Germans dominated the men’s competition, nailing down the top five spots in the race after a mass sprint to the finish line. Tobias Angerer took the top spot on the podium with a time of 1:17:19.2, while teammate Axel Teichmann was second at 1:17:20.5 nd Andreas Schluetter was third at 1:17:21.4.

American Kris Freeman finished 23rd. Freeman finished in 1:17.42.1, with his older brother, Justin, 43rd, U.S. pursuit champion Andrew Johnson 44th and James Southam 48th as the lone Americans in the top 50.

Hosting the World Cup at home allowed Cross Country Canada to suit up nine women and eight men in the field of 160 athletes representing 23 nations.

The Viessmann Cross-Country Skiing World Cup, presented by Haywood Securities, will continue at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Center on Sunday with the men’s and women’s sprint competitions before the world’s top racers heads east on the Trans-Canada Highway to the Canmore Nordic Center for three more competitions, Dec. 15-18.

- Courtesy Cross Country Canada/USSA

Cross-Country World Cup results
Men
30-kilometer pursuit

1. Tobias Angerer, Germany, 1 hour, 17 minutes, 19.2 seconds
2. Axel Teichmann, Germany, 1:17:20.5
3. Andreas Schluetter, Germany, 1:17:21.4
4. Jens Filbrich, Germany, 1:17:22.7
5. Rene Sommerfeldt, Germany, 1:17:24.1
6. Serguei Novikov, Russia, 1:17.24.5
7. Frode Estil, Norway, 1:17.24.6
8. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 1:17:25.2
9. Vincent Vittoz, France, 1:17:25.3
10. Geir Ludvig Aasen, Norway, 1:17:25.7

Women
15-kilometer pursuit

1. Marit Bjoergen, Finland, 42 minutes, 27.8 seconds
2. Beckie Scott, Canada, 42:28.1
3. Hilde Pedersen, Norway, 42:30.4
4. Evi Sachenbacher Stehle, Germany, 42:31.5
5. Kristin Muerer Stemland, Norway, 42:33.6
6. Olga Savialova, Russia, 42:35.3
7. Elena Burukhina, Russia, 42:42.9
8. Oxana Jatskaja, Kazakhstan, 42:45.8
9. Julia Tchepalova, Russia, 43:00.1
10. Petra Majdic, Slovenia, 43:02.6

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