Here’s one that didn’t make Sunday’s Rundown: the Alberta Cup’s opening distance races, which took place Nov. 26-27 in Canmore, Alberta.
The Alberta Cup kicked off this past weekend with several big names competing in the distance races at the Canmore Nordic Centre on Saturday and Sunday.
Brian McKeever, Kyle Bratrud, Chelsea Holmes, and Felicia Gesior picked up victories, with the latter three all hailing from the U.S.
In the men’s 13.5 k freestyle interval start, McKeever, of Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team, took first in the men’s open race, beating his teammate Graham Nishikawa by 3.6 seconds with a winning time of 30:01.8. A visually impaired skier, McKeever races with Nishikawa as his guide in Paralympic races. But not on Saturday.
Bratrud, of the CXC Team, placed third in the 13.5 k skate, two seconds back from Nishikawa and 5.6 out of first.
David Palmer (Black Jack) was the second Canadian in fourth overall (+20.0), Matthew Hudec, of the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre (BATC), was fifth (+36.3), and Brian Gregg (Team Gregg) took sixth (+50.1). Rounding out the top 10 (of 54 in the open men’s field), Russell Kennedy (Team R.A.D.) placed seventh, Erik Carleton (Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team) was eighth, Evan Palmer-Charrette (NDC Thunder Bay) ninth, and Dominique Moncion-Groulx, of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA), 10th.
Holmes, of Alaska Pacific University (APU), won the women’s 8.1 k freestyle on Saturday, finishing nearly 45 seconds ahead of Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) in 21:10.7. Biathlon Canada’s Emma Lunder placed third (+52.1) and junior biathlete Megan Bankes (BATC) finished fourth (+1:08.4), ahead of another BATC junior Nadia Moser in fifth (+1:13). Andrea Dupont, of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) finished sixth (+1:19.6) and Katherine Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay/National U25 Team) was seventh (+1:30.8), while Kathryn Stone (University of Alberta) placed eighth, Annika Richardson (NDC Thunder Bay) was ninth, and India McIsaac (RMR) 10th out of 33 women in the open category.
On Sunday, Bratrud came out with a 9.9-second win in the men’s 8.1 k classic interval start over Palmer-Charrette. Bratrud won in 19:00.1, Palmer-Charrette was second, and Moncio-Groulx placed third (+29.2).
On his first of of four laps, Moncion-Groulx recorded the fastest lap time of the day.
“I didn’t know if I was in the game, but I was happily surprised when I was third,” Moncion-Groulx said of his finish, according to an AWCA press release. “It’s an improvement, and there are definitely some good guys racing. It’s a good confidence boost.”
Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay) was fourth (+32.5), Julian Smith (NDC Thunder Bay) fifth (+45.7), and for the second-straight race, Brian Gregg finished sixth (+53.0). Nishikawa was another two seconds back seventh, Palmer was eighth, Kennedy cracked the top 10 for the second straight day in ninth, as did Carleton in 10th.
McKeever finished 11th, half a second behind Carleton, his other Paralympic guide, out of 26 in the men’s open race. After Sunday’s race, McKeever tweeted, “Vented personal frustration today. Mental error=inability to count laps in today’s race. Realize I’ve put a lot of stress on myself lately.”
In another tweet on Sunday, he wrote, “Congrats to Kyle Bratrud from @cxcskiing and the @NDCTBay boys for laying down the hammer on the field today! Cool to see!”
Also on Sunday, Gesior won the women’s 6.3 k classic and Caitlin Gregg repeated in second. Gesior put down the fastest time in 17:46.8, and Gregg finished 9.3 seconds back, while Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (AWCA/National U25 Team) placed third (+13.1).
According to the AWCA press release, Bouffard-Nesbitt is still recovering from a stress fracture and spent three months this summer on crutches. “I know I need to step up to the challenge. I feel the pressure and it’s helping me become a better athlete,” she said.
Stewart-Jones double poled to fourth (+23.3), Holmes placed fifth (+36.0), and Dupont was sixth (+54.1). Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) placed seventh, Emma Camicioli (RMR) was eighth, Delphine Duvernay Tardif (AWCA) ninth, and Ember Large (University of Alberta) 10th out of 18 women in the open field.
Results: Saturday’s freestyle | Sunday’s classic