ALMATY, Kazakhstan (U SPORTS) – A sixth-place finish by snowboarder Austin White of Oyama, B.C., and two more wins in curling highlighted Team Canada’s sixth day of competition at the 28th Winter Universiade.
In other Canadian action on Thursday, an impressive total of five cross country skiers reached the quarter-final round in the classic sprints, while in biathlon Jessica Paterson of St. Albert, Alta., was the best Canuck in the sprint with a 22nd position.
White made the most of a busy day on the slopes of Shymbulak Ski Resort with four duel-style races in less than two hours.
The 19-year-old UBC Okanagan student-athlete, who advanced past Wednesday’s qualification runs in 16th place, finished second in his heat in both the round of 32 and the quarterfinals to reach the Final Eight. Unfortunately, his medal hopes vanished in the semis, where he was beaten to the finish line by eventual gold medallist Léo Le Ble of France and Russia’s Evgeniy Mukhutdinov.
White was relegated to the Small Final, where he finished second behind another member of the powerful Russian team, Anton Koprivista.
“Today was pretty busy, pretty hectic. After the four races you’re definitely tired and breathing heavy. But it’s a pretty cool experience,” said White. “I’m so happy with how I did. I came here and didn’t really have too many expectations because I wasn’t sure about the quality of riders that were gonna be competing. But sixth place is obviously very close to a podium spot and overall, I’m super happy with how I did. I don’t have any regrets.”
In women’s curling, Kelsey Rocque and her University of Alberta foursome survived a scare against Switzerland to come away with a crucial 6-5 win in an extra end, leaving them with a 4-2 record and a four-way tie for second place in the overall standings with the Swiss, South Korea and Russia.
The Canadians built a healthy 4-0 lead at the five-end break and were up 5-2 after eight, only to see Briar Huerlimann’s squad score a deuce in the ninth and steal one in the tenth to extend the contest. In the 11th, with Rocque holding the hammer, Huerlimann was forced to make a difficult last shot into the house, but ran out of magic.
“I actually though we played pretty well,” Rocque said. “It’s just tough to defend against really good teams once you get a lead. But we’re happy to come away with the win. A win is a win!”
“We were doing all the things that we wanted to do within the structure of the game. We made a couple of half shots in key moments, and the other team capitalized. Which is great for them, this is what the game is all about,” added coach Garry Coderre. “We had a chance to win the game in the tenth. Kelsey threw a good rock but it just curled a little more than it needed to. But from my point of view, in these close games, I’ll believe in my girls every time because they’re very comfortable in that environment. Our skip proved it again.”
In men’s curling, Aaron Squires and his crew from Wilfrid Laurier University kicked off the day with a 6-5 win over Japan in the morning session, before dropping a 7-5 decision against Sweden in the evening. With three matches remaining in the preliminary round, the Canadians are tied for fourth place with a 3-3 mark.
While the final score against the Japanese was close, Canada was in control the entire match and led 5-1 at the midway break after scoring a deuce in the third and adding consecutive singles in the fourth and fifth.
“This was a big one for us. It was our best game by far,” said Squires. “The score was close but we controlled the game. We really needed to bounce back after yesterday’s loss to the United States, which really took some wind out of the sails.”
Coach Jim Waite couldn’t agree more with his skip.
“That was more like we should be playing. We had a good team meeting last night and refocused. We made a few mental changes and a little bit of strategy stuff. The guys played a very sound game today. I know it looks close on the scoreboard but it was never that close, we were in control all the way.”
Unfortunately, Squires and his teammates couldn’t keep the momentum going against Sweden. Down 4-1 after giving up two points in the sixth, the Canadian skip scored three in the seventh on a brilliant last rock to even the score, only to see his opponents come back with a deuce in the eighth and one more in the ninth, essentially putting the game away.
“That was a wonderful shot by Aaron because we had been chasing the whole game and that got us back tied. Then in the eighth end we had two chances, one with our third and then Aaron missed a double, both of them by a quarter of an inch, that’s what it’s been like,” said Waite. “We’re going to bounce back. We’re still in it. We need to win tomorrow and then win at least one of our next two, and hopefully be at least in a tie-breaker.”
In cross country skiing, the Canadian contingent surprised many by qualifying four athletes for the quarterfinals of the women’s 7.5-kilometre classic sprint, and one more for the quarters of the men’s 10 km classic sprint. None of the five teammates was able to reach the semis however.
In the women’s event, the four qualifiers, Andrée-Anne Théberge of Lévis, Que., Emma Camicioli of Edmonton, Christel Pichard-Jolicoeur of Saint- Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., and Shelby Dickey of Collingwood, Ont., finished 17th, 25th, 27th and 30th overall, respectively, based on their ranking after the qualification round.
On the men’s side, Alexis Morin of Victoriaville, Que., ended up in 18th position.
“This is way up from our last appearance at the FISU Games. It’s a big step forward for the team. We had quite a big group of Canadians who came to cheer us on today, so maybe the Canadian flag got our adrenaline going” said coach Toivo Koivukoski from Nipissing University. “It was a great effort by the entire team, we’re really proud of them. Now we get to rest tomorrow, and after that we’re looking forward to the relays and more team racing.”
In biathlon, Paterson was the lone Canadian to take the start in the women’s 7.5-kilometre sprint, which was won by Kazakh Olympian Galina Vishnevskaya in 21:43.1 to the delight of the local crowd. The University of Alberta Augustana student, finished 22nd in 24:51.4.
In the men’s 10 km sprint, Seamus Boyd-Porter of St. John’s was the first Canuck across the finish line in 31:29.4, good for 40th overall.
Both Canadian hockey teams enjoyed a well-deserved day off on Thursday.
The men (2-0) get back on the ice Friday at 12:30 p.m. local (1:30 a.m. EST) against Slovakia (2-0) in battle for first place in Group B. The women (3-0), who finished atop Group A, are off to the semifinals and will face the United States (1-1) Saturday at 4:30 p.m. local (5:30 a.m. EST). Both contests will be streamed live on www.livefisu.tv/.
RESULTS FROM THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2
Women’s 7.5 km Sprint
1. Galina Vishnevskaya, Kazakhstan, 21:43.1; 2. Yana Bondar, Ukraine, 22:05.9; 3. Anastasiia Egorova, Russia, 22:19.8; 22. Jessica Paterson, St. Albert, Alta., 24:51.4.
Men’s 10 km Sprint
1. Semen Suchilov, Russia, 27:02.3; 2. Dmitrii Ivanov, Russia, 27:24.1; 3. Roman Yeryonin, Kazakhstan, 27:24.6; 40. Seamus Boyd-Porter, St. John’s, Nfld., 31:29.4; 45. Sasha Eccleston, Hinton, Alta., 34:46.2; 50. Reagan Mills, Truro, N.S., 37:40.8.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
Women’s Sprint Classic
17. Andrée-Anne Théberge, Lévis, Que., 3:44.08, advances to quarterfinals; 26. Emma Camicioli, Edmonton, Alta., 3:54.46, advances to quarterfinals; 27. Christel Pichard-Jolicoeur, Saint- Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 3:54.49, advances to quarterfinals; 30. Shelby Dickey, Collingwood, Ont., 3:56.14, advances to quarterfinals; 38. Kyla Vanderzwet, Port Elgin, Ont., 4:04.07, does not advance.
6. Shelby Dickey, Collingwood, Ont., 3:56.01, does not advance, finishes 30th overall;
4. Andrée-Anne Théberge, Lévis, Que., 3:36.62, does not advance, finishes 17th overall; 6. Christel Pichard-Jolicoeur, Saint- Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 3:48.80, does not advance, finishes 27th overall.
5. Emma Camicioli, Edmonton, Alta., 3:52.53, does not advance, finishes 25th overall.
Men’s Sprint Classic
24. Alexis Morin, Victoriaville, Que., 4:04.13, advances to quarterfinals; 37. William Dumas, Gatineau, Que., 4:11.87, does not advance; 50. Jordan Cascagnette, Pentetanguishene, Ont., 4:16.93, does not advance; 57. Gavin Shields, Thunder Bay, Ont., 4:20.22, does not advance; 61. Conor Thompson, Montreal, Que., 4:25.71, does not advance.
4. Alexis Morin, Victoriaville, Que., 4:06.11, does not advance, finishes 18th overall.
Women’s Preliminary Round (9 matches)
CAN 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 – 6
SUI 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 1 0 – 5
Canada (4-2) faces Kazakhstan (0-6) and South Korea (4-2) on Friday.
Men’s Preliminary Round (9 matches)
CAN 1 0 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 – 6
JPN 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 1 – 5
SWE 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 2 1 0 – 7
CAN 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 1 – 5
Canada (3-3) faces the Czech Republic (3-3) on Friday.
Men’s Snowboard Cross
Round of 32
2. Austin White, Oyama, B.C., advances to quarterfinals.
2. Austin White, Oyama, B.C., advances to semifinals.
4. Austin White, Oyama, B.C., moves to B final.
2. Austin White, Oyama, B.C., finishes 6th overall.