by Chris Dornan
January 12, 2014, CANMORE, Alta. (ISN) – Graeme Killick left no doubt he deserves a spot on Canada’s 2014 Olympic Team after dominating the field in the men’s skiathlon race on Sunday at the Canmore Nordic Centre, which is also serving as Cross Country Canada’s Olympic Trials. Amanda Ammar also put her name into the mix for Sochi after winning the women’s skiathlon.
Another of Canada’s promising athletes, the 24-year-old Killick skied in the pack until the final lap of the 15-kilometre classic-portion of the race where he began to make his move and never looked back. The Fort McMurray, Alta. native entered the transition into the 15-kilometre skate leg first and continued to open his lead on the field on the Centennial Trail at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Killick cruised home to victory, winning the 30-kilometre skiathlon race with a time of 1:26:53.9 to all but officially secure his spot in Sochi.
“This is so huge. You just dream of this day. It feels amazing,” said Killick. “I never really thought I had it until that final hill. So many people have helped me a long the way and it is just awesome to share it with them.”
With Cross Country Canada selecting just one men’s distance skier, Killick was favoured to win Thursday’s 15-kilometre classic-ski race, but was reeled in on the final lap by 10-time Paralympic medallist, Brian McKeever. McKeever’s Olympic hopes came to a hault when he was not able to respond to Killick’s break on the pack, and finished eighth.
“I did think about the other day and was a little worried because I blew up on that final lap Thursday,” said Killick. “I think that race just reinforced to me how important every second and every corner is out there. That is what I thought about today.”
“That was an impressive performance,” said McKeever. “Graeme skied awesome and I’m very happy for him. He showed great form, and that is what you want for the Olympics.”
Jesse Cockney, who has also split time on the World Cup and domestic race circuit with Killick, put in a hard effort to finish second at 1:27:52.4. Cockney, of Canmore, Alta., put his name in the running for Sochi after winning Saturday’s sprint race. Michael Somppi, of Thunder Bay, Ont., was third at 1:27:52.7.
Meanwhile, former National Ski Team athlete, Amanda Ammar of Onoway, Alta., gutted out a strong performance in the women’s 15-kilometre skiathlon race. The 27 year old led wire-to-wire through the 7.5-kilometre classic-ski course, followed by 7.5 kilometres of skate-skiing to post a winning time of 49:16.9.
The victory puts Ammar in contention for the final women’s distance athlete that Cross Country Canada will nominate to the Canadian Olympic Team on Tuesday. Athletes need to win one of the selection races to be considered for nomination. Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse won the women’s 10-kilometre classic-ski race on Thursday.
Brittany Webster, of Caledon, Ont., skied to the silver for the second-straight race. Webster stopped the clock at 49:22.3. Quebec’s Anne-Marie Comeau was third at 49:47.1.
Cross Country Canada will nominate its Olympic squad during a media conference in Calgary, January 14, at Altadore School at 10:30 a.m.
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 Canadians participating annually. Its 58,000 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,. 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 www.cccski.com.
Complete Olympic Trials Results: www.zone4.ca
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 1:26:53.9; 2. Jesse Cockney, Canmore, Alta., 1:27:52.4; 3. Michael Somppi, Thunder Bay, Ont., 1:27:52.7; 4. Kevin Sandau, Calgary, 1:27:55.8; 5. Chris Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Ont., 1:27:56.8.
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Amanda Ammar, Onoway, Alta., 49:16.9; 2. Brittany Webster, Caledon, Ont., 49:22.3; 3. Anne-Marie Comeau, Quebec, 49:47.1; 4. Alysson Marshall, Salmon Arm, B.C., 50:57.5; 5. Zoe Roy, Canmore, Alta., 51:17.3.