|Babikov and Gaiazova Repeat in Nationals Pursuit|
Warm conditions continued today in Prince George, BC for the skate pursuit races at the Canadian National Championships. The overnight pursuit leaders, Ivan Babikov and Dasha Gaiazova, put in dominant performances for the second day in a row, both extending their leads over the skate leg of the race.
Ivan Babikov was caught early by Dan Roycroft and Dave Nighbor in the 15km skate, but after humoring the pack for a few kilometers he took off to win going away, 50.9 seconds ahead of second place finisher Roycroft. Nighbor was skiing in third position for most of the race, but lost the bronze medal to a brialliant final lap from Brian McKeever, who posted the second fastest skate time. Nighbor finished 4th followed by Gordon Jewett, who moved up from 8th position with the 3rd fastest skate time.
Gaiazova's performance was even more dominant than Babikov's. She was rarely seen by the pack in the women's 10km skate race, posting the fastest skate time by 26.8 seconds to win in a time of 46 minutes and 23.3 seconds. Chandra Crawford used a strong skate leg to move up to second position, 1 minutes and 11.4 seconds behind Gaiazova, after overnight third place finisher Amanda Ammar did not start due to a muscle strain. Tara Whitten, fresh off the World Championships in Germany, took third place with the second fastest skate time. Madeleine Williams finished in 4th position, followed by Christine Bisson in 5th.
The junior men's and women's races were once again won by Brent McMurtry and Perianne Jones, who finished 8th and 7th in the open categories respectively.
The junior girls race was won by overnight leader Sara Hewitt, while the junior boys race was won by Haakon Lenes. The juvenile boys category was won by Jesse Cockney and the juvenile girls race was won by Heidi Widmer.
So far the Canadian Championships has been dominated by the Foothills and Banff Ski Runners clubs from Alberta. Between the two clubs they have won 12 of the 16 nationals titles that were awarded in the first two races.
Action continues on Friday in Prince George with classic sprint races, which will also serve as the final races in the selections of the World Junior Championships team.
Complete results are available at zone4.ca.
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