ALMATY, Kazakhstan (U SPORTS) – Canada came oh-so-close to capturing its first medal of the 28th Winter Universiade on Tuesday courtesy of snowboarder Jennifer Hawkrigg of Toronto, who left everything on the slopes on her way to a fourth-place finish in the women’s parallel slalom.
Other Canadian highlights on the fourth day of competition in Almaty included an impressive win over perennial contender Sweden in women’s curling, as well as a solid first run in the women’s combined by alpine skier Hannah Schmidt of Dunrobin, Ont., who stands in 13th position after the slalom with the Super G set for Wednesday.
In snowboarding, Hawkrigg made it all the way to the Final Four of the parallel slalom, only to suffer back-to-back heartbreaks.
In the semifinal round, the Ryerson University student gave eventual gold medallist Weronika Biela of Poland all she could handle, losing by a mere three hundredths of a second over two runs after conceding her opponent a significant advantage of 1.29 seconds in the first race.
Hawkrigg then had a second shot at the podium in the bronze-medal duel against Poland’s Karolina Sztokfisz, but she could barely push with her leg during that contest due to a knee injury suffered in a freak accident at the bottom of the hill immediately after her second semifinal race.
Against Sztokfisz, the Canadian once again found herself trailing by 1.29 seconds after falling in the opening run, and her medal hopes vanished when she also fell in the second race.
“Today was awesome in general. I was pretty consistent in all of my runs in the beginning. At the end of the day, I’m very happy because I put together the best string of runs I had in a while. I was neck-and-neck with the gold medallist, we were basically tied,” said Hawkrigg. “I’m so happy to be able to compete for Canada and do so well for my country, especially against such a strong field. Obviously, the day didn’t quite end the way I wanted to, but it was really an awesome experience.”
Three other Canadians snowboarders advanced past the qualifications of the parallel slalom, including Mackenzie Hamilton of Carlisle, Ont., and Emma Van Groningen of Cambridge, Ont., in the women’s event, as well as of Andrew Hildebrand of Toronto on the men’s side. None were able to make it past the round of 16 however and they ended up 12th, 15th and 10th, respectively.
“Overall it was a pretty good two days of racing events, with three athletes making it out of the qualifications on Monday, and four more today. I was very impressed with the level of competition at these FISU Games,” said head coach Patrik Gaudet. “When it comes to Jennifer, she beat some very solid opponents to reach the small final. I wouldn’t say her fourth place is a surprise because she has the potential for that kind of performance. Obviously, fourth is always a bittersweet result. It’s heartbreaking because she was a few mistakes away from a medal.”
Canada has one snowboarding competition remaining at the Games. Austin White of Oyama, B.C., takes part in the men’s snowboard cross on Thursday.
In women’s curling, skip Kelsey Rocque of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and her University of Alberta foursome moved to 2-1 thanks to a 5-3 defeat of Sweden. The Canadians scored two in the second end, one more in the fifth, and were solid under pressure down the stretch.
“Losing our opener against China yesterday kind of fired us up and made us realize that we had to play our best against every team here,” said Rocque, Canada’s flag bearer at the opening ceremonies. “We’re playing really well now. It’s nice to get a few wins under our belt. I think every game is going to be pretty crucial from here, so we have to keep our level of play up.”
In men’s curling, skip Aaron Squires of St. Thomas, Ont., and his crew from Wilfrid Laurier University couldn’t recover from a 3-0 deficit in the first end of their morning match against Great Britain, which they ended up losing 9-4 in nine ends. The Canucks rebounded in the evening with a hard-fought 5-4 victory over Russia – after once again conceding two points in the first end – to also improve to 2-1.
“It’s definitely a little deflating when you start out like that. You never want to give up a three, even a deuce to start the game. We stuck in there as best as we could and played as conservative as possible to avoid conceding an even bigger lead by being too aggressive, but they ended up cracking that big one at the end,” Squires said after the morning loss, which ended with the British scoring three in the ninth. “We played better against Russia.”
In alpine skiing, Schmidt was the only Canadian to take the start of the women’s combined. Both the slalom – which the Carleton University student navigated in 1:00.39 – and the Super G were delayed due to inclement weather at Shymbulak Ski Resort, and the latter race ended up being postponed until Wednesday.
In cross country skiing, Laval University teammates Christel Pichard-Jolicoeur of Saint- Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., and William Dumas of Gatineau, Que., were the top Canadians in the women’s and men’s freestyle pursuits, finishing 31st and 40th, respectively. Pichard-Jolicoeur completed her five-kilometre race in 18:05.6, while Dumas crossed the finish line of his 10 km event in 31:38.5.
“Things are coming along very well for our group after the first two days. Today we had standout performances by Christel and William. William had the 26th fastest lap time in the pursuit, which opened my eyes real wide,” said head coach Toivo Koivukoski from Nipissing University. “Over the next few days, I’m really looking forward to the mixed relays. Cross country skiing is an individual sport but the athletes really step up for their team and their country in the relays.”
Finally, on the first day of biathlon events, Jessica Paterson of St. Albert, Alta., was the top Canuck in the women’s individual 15 km with a time of 1:12:54.8 good for 23rd place, while Seamus Boyd-Porter of St. John’s, Nfld., was 36th in the men’s 20 km in 1:17:14.1.
In hockey, both Canadian teams will be back on the ice Wednesday when the men (1-0) face Great Britain (0-1) at 5 a.m. EST (4 p.m. local) and the women (2-0) wrap up pool play against host Kazakhstan (1-1) at 9 a.m. EST (8 p.m. local).
RESULTS FROM MONDAY, JANUARY 31
Hannah Schmidt, Dunrobin, Ont., 13th after Slalom in 1:00.39, Super G race rescheduled for Wednesday, February 1.
Women’s 15 km Individual
1. Alina Raikova, Kazakhstan, 59:48.7; 2. Galina Vishnevskaya, Kazakhstan, 1:02:09.8; 3. Nadiia Bielkina, Ukraine, 1:02:12.3; 23. Jessica Paterson, St. Albert, Alta., 1:12:54.8; Eveline Juce, Hamiota, Man., DNF.
Men’s 20 km Individual
1. Baptiste Jouty, France, 1:03:41:0; 2. Sergey Korastylev, Russia, 1:04:22.0; 3. Semen Suchilov, Russia, 1:04:46.5; 36. Seamus Boyd-Porter, St. John’s, Nfld., 1:17:14.1; 42. Taij Mann, Edmonton, Alta., 1:23:18.2; 45. Sasha Eccleston, Hinton, Alta., 1:26:48.8; DNF Reagan Mills, Truro, N.S.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
Women’s 5 km Pursuit Free
1. Anna Nechaevskaya, Russia, 13:29.7; 2. Lilia Vasilieva, Russia, 13:47.8; 3. Anna Shevchenko, Kazakhstan, 13:51.0; 31. Christel Pichard-Jolicoeur, Saint- Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 18:05.6; 41. Shelby Dickey, Collingwood, Ont., 19:05.6; 44. Emma Camicioli, Edmonton, Alta., 19:22.7; 45. Kyla Vanderzwet, Port Elgin, Ont., 19:24.5.
Men’s 10 km Pursuit Free
1. Dmitriy Rostovtsev, Russia, 26:12.5; 2. Valeriy Gontar, Russia, 26:27.2; 3. Sergey Mikayelyan, Armenia, 27:04.5; 40. William Dumas, Gatineau, Que., 31:38.5; 48. Carrington Pomeroy, Chelsea, Que., 32:13.7; 52. Conor Thompson, Montreal, Que., 32:45.8; 58. Gavin Shields, Thunder Bay, Ont., 33:07.1; 62. Jordan Cascagnette, Pentetanguishene, Ont., 33:37.3; 68. Alexis Morin, Victoriaville, Que., 34:56.6.
Women’s Preliminary Round (9 matches)
CAN 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 – 5
SWE 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 – 3
Canada (2-1) faces Russia (2-1) and Great Britain (2-1) on Wednesday.
Men’s Preliminary Round (9 matches)
GBR 3 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 3 – 9
CAN 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 – 4
CAN 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 – 5
RUS 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 – 4
Canada (2-1) faces the United States (1-2) on Wednesday.
Women’s Parallel Slalom
Qualifications (two runs)
10. Jennifer Hawkrigg, Toronto, Ont., 1:13.00, advances to round of 16; 12. Mackenzie Hamilton, Carlisle, Ont., 1:13.94, advances to round of 16; 15. Emma Van Groningen, Cambridge, Ont., 1:14.73, advances to round of 16; 18. Abby Van Groningen, Cambridge, Ont., 1:17.06, does not advance.
Round of 16 (two runs)
Jennifer Hawkrigg, Toronto, Ont., wins by DSQ vs. Asa Toyoda of Japan, advances to quarter-finals.
Round of 16 (two runs)
Mackenzie Hamilton, Carlisle, Ont., +1.44 vs. Karolina Sztokfisz of Poland, does not advance, finishes 12th overall.
Round of 16 (two runs)
Emma Van Groningen, Cambridge, Ont., +3.85 vs. Annamari Dancha of Ukraine, does not advance, finishes 15th overall.
Quarter-finals (two runs)
Jennifer Hawkrigg, Toronto, Ont., wins by DSQ vs. Annamari Dancha of Ukraine, advances to semifinals.
Semifinals (two runs)
Jennifer Hawkrigg, Toronto, Ont., +0.03 vs. Weronika Biela of Poland, moves to bronze medal race.
Bronze (two runs)
Jennifer Hawkrigg, Toronto, Ont., DSQ vs. Karolina Sztokfisz of Poland, finishes 4th overall.
Men’s Parallel Slalom
Qualifications (two runs)
8. Andrew Hildebrand, Toronto, Ont., 1:07.07, advances to round of 16.
Round of 16 (two runs)
Andrew Hildebrand, Toronto, Ont., +9.79 vs. Michal Nowaczyk of Poland, does not advance, finishes 10th overall.