|Canadian Duo's Gamble Pays Off to Make Podium Charge at World Cup|
Pragelato, ITA-Canadaís one-two punch of Beckie Scott and Sara Renner charged for the podium at a World Cup cross-country team sprint relay in Pragelato, Italy on Sunday, but came up a whisker short finishing fourth.
Canadaís top cross-country ski queens gambled on a new strategy to try and improve their World Cup standing in the relay. The duo usually has Renner, of Canmore, Alta., starting the six legs around the 1.1-kilometre track with Scott, of Vermilion, Alta., anchoring the race. But on Sunday, the two-time Olympians decided to flip the order which resulted in one of their strongest team relays, clocking a time of 18 minutes 42.3 seconds.
"We have both been really strong in the individual sprints, but when it comes to the team event we havenít had much luck so we decided to change things up a bit," said the 28-year-old Renner, who is enjoying having her teammate and Olympic gold medalist, Scott, back at her side after completing the first half of the season as the lone Canadian woman on the World Cup. "It was snowing hard and tough to make a move, but we were in contention for the entire race and it was a great day."
The team sprint relays consist of two athletes on each team, who both complete the 1.1-kilometre course three times. Athletes alternate skiing each leg of the race. The event consists of two qualification heats, with the top-five teams in each heat moving into the final.
"We were definitely contenders today thanks to an adjustment on some little tactics. We were confident and were focused on having a great race," said Scott. "It was a great day for our entire team and we are going to celebrate as a group. Now weíre hungry for more."
Canada also suited up another womenís team on Sunday. Three-time Olympian, Milaine Theriault of St. Quentin, N.B. teamed up with World Cup rookie Tara Whitten of Edmonton. The Canadian duo also qualified for the finals in their first event together, but finished off the pace in 10th spot at 20:09.3.
Germany I came out on top in the womenís event after posting a time of 18:37.9. Sweden sprinted to the silver medal position with a time of 18:39.8, while Finland rounded out the top-three with a time of 18:40.3.
Meanwhile, the Canadian menís team of George Grey of Rossland, B.C. and Chris Jeffries of Chelsea, Que. also joined forces to post a strong result in the challenging and talented menís race loaded with the best cross-country ski athletes in the world. Despite missing the finals, the two youngsters on the World Cup finished seventh in their qualification heat, and locked up 13th place in the 6 x 1.2-kilometre sprint with a time of 19:54.8.
Germany I also grabbed gold in the menís competition after setting the time to beat at 19:10.4. Sweden took home the silver medal with a time of 19:12.5, while Germany II won the bronze medal after posting a time of 19:13.2.
Canadaís men and womenís Cross-Country Ski Teams will hold a training camp in Europe over the next two weeks before their next World Cup race on February 12, 2005.
COMPLETE WORLD CUP RESULTS:
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results: 6 x 1.1-kilometre team relay
1. Germany I, 18:37.9
2. Sweden, 18:39.8
3. Finland, 18:40.3
4. Canada I (Beckie Scott, Sara Renner)
5. Kazakhstan, 18:42.8.
Other Canadian Results:
10. Canada II (Milaine Theriault, Tara Whitten), 20:09.3
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results: 6 x 1.2-kilometre team relay
1.Germany I, 19:10.4
2. Sweden, 19:12.5
3. Germany II, 19:13.2
4. Italy I, 19:17.6
5. Estonia I, 19:18.0
13. Canada (George Grey, Chris Jeffries), 19:54.8
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