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Chris Dornan

CANMORE, Alta.—Brent McMurtry and Emily Nishikawa cranked up the heat on a frigid afternoon at the Canmore Nordic Centre by winning gold in the men’s and women’s classic-ski races on Friday.

The 25-year-old McMurtry, who represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics, kicked into top gear out off the start and never looked back while bolting around the 10-kilometre course at the world-leading Canmore Nordic Centre. The Calgarian stomped the field while posting a time of 27 minutes, 33.7 seconds in 15 below temperatures.

“I just started hard and focused on skiing smooth and staying strong,” said McMurtry, who admitted to altering his pre-race training due to extremely cold temperatures rolling through Alberta’s Bow Valley Corridor which kept him inside this week. “My whole goal today was to push hard. It was working good for the first two laps andthen I just held on in the final lap.”

Calgary’s Kevin Sandau clocked a silver-medal time of 27:55.1, while Brian McKeever’s guide, Erik Carleton of Canmore, Alta., rounded out the men’s podium in third at 27:59.5.

Meanwhile, Emily Nishikawa took advantage of her roots growing up in the cold Whitehorse winters to win the women’s five-kilometre classic-ski race. The 22-year-old set the time to beat at 16:09.2.

“I was able to push hard today, but it was a real lung burner,” said Nishikawa. “I’m definitely used to this weather growing up in the Yukon, but the cold is always a lot harder on your lungs and takes up more energy.”

Nishikawa was one of 16young Canadian athletes, including five from Whitehorse, recently named to Canada’s Junior and Under-23 World Championship Team that will compete in Erzurum, Turkey, February 19-26.

“It was nice to be named to the team and put that behind us,” said Nishikawa. “I’m just now focusing on getting ready to have good results in Turkey.”

Ottawa’s Alana Thomas finished five seconds back of Nishikawa in second spot at 16:14.6. Alysson Marshall, of Salmon Arm, B.C., skied to the bronze with a time of 16:15.0.

The Haywood NorAm’s continue on Saturday in Canmore, Alta., with the Teck Sprint races

Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadiansparticipating annually. Its 55,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Teck Resources Ltd., Canadian Pacific, and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at

Complete Results:

Top-Five Men’s Results:

1. Brent McMurtry, Calgary, 27:33.7; 2. Kevin Sandau, Calgary, 27:55.1; 3. Erik Carleton, Canmore, Alta., 27:59.5; 4. David Greer, Whitehorse, 28:07.5; 5. Raphael Couturier, Quebec,28:36.0.

Top-Five Women

1. Emily Nishikawa, Whitehorse, 16:09.2; 2. Alana Thomas, Ottawa, 16:14.6; 3. Alysson Marshall,Salmon Arm, B.C., 16:15.0; 4. Brittany Webster, Caledon, Ont., 16:15.6; 5. Amanda Ammar, Onoway, Alta., 16:23.1.