|Beckie Scott Narrowly Misses Podium in Finland|
Lahti, FIN-Canada’s Beckie Scott was on a mission to capture her first World Cup podium appearance of the year, but the Olympic gold medallist came up short in the final heat and finished fourth, missing the podium by a hair in a sprint event in Lahti, Finland.
The Vermilion, Alta. native, who has been skiing well during the 2003-04 season, but has not caught the breaks needed to secure a spot on the podium, proved on Friday she is back and ready to compete with the world’s best.
Competing in her second skate-skiing sprint event of the World Cup season, one of Scott’s strongest techniques, the leader of the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team was focused on regaining her spot on the podium amongst the world’s elite. Scott started out the day on fire, posting the second fastest qualification time after blasting around the one-kilometre track in a time of two minutes 14.86 seconds, just .12 seconds behind frontrunner Marit Bjoergen, of Norway.
"I skied really good throughout the day and it all started with a good qualifying run. I had good skis and lots of speed and power that carried me through to the final," said Scott, who has consistently placed in the top-15 this year. "I think this course was suited for me. The first half was straight climbing which is one of my strongest skills and I just felt comfortable out there."
Bjoergen, who has been dominating the World Cup circuit, and Scott, led the top-16 athletes from the one-run qualification into the head-to-head heats, which consist of fourth athletes racing simultaneously around the slick Finish track, similar to a 100-metre dash in track and field. The top-two athletes in each heat advance to the next round, until there are four left in the final.
Scott and Bjoergen were on a crash-course for the final, each handily winning their heats on opposite sides of the brackets throughout the day. Scott’s plan was to stay close to Bjoergen in the final, but the Norwegian shot off like a rocket and won the final heat by nearly three seconds. Scott held second spot in the final-four until the last hill down towards home where the other two competitors passed her. Italy’s Gabriella Paruzzi grabbed the silver medal, while Sweden’s Anna Dahlberg, won the dash for third over Scott by .06 seconds.
"It feels really good to be back and I feel like this is where I belong," said Scott. "I have been skiing really well all year, and have been so close to turning in some good results, but I just haven’t had the breaks. It may be one of the final events of the year, but I am still very happy."
Two other women competed for Canada in the sprint competition. Sara Renner, of Canmore, Alta., who may be getting a little road weary having been in Europe since December, qualified 29th (2:18.72), despite being just 1.32 seconds out of 16th spot. Milaine Theriault, of St. Quentin, N.B., who continued her comeback trail this year after having a baby, qualified 52nd (2:24.66) in just her second World Cup of the season. American Rebecca Dussault finished 47th.
While the Canadian men were not in action on Friday, the team was saving their energy for a team relay event on Saturday in Finland. The Canadian women will be back in action on Sunday for a 10-kilometre classic event.
Complete Results: http://fis-ski.com/calendar/event.php?id=11519
Women's World Cup Sprint, Lahti, Finland
1.Marit Bjoergen, Norway
2. Gabriella Paruzzi, Italy
3. Anna Dahlberg, Sweden
4. Beckie Scott, Vermilion, Alta.
5. Christina Kelder, Italy
6. Katerina Neumannova, Czech Republic
7. Kirsi Peraelae, Finland
8. Pirjo Manninen, Finland.
Other Canadian Results:
29. Sara Renner, Canmore, Alta.
52. Milaine Theriault, St. Quentin, N.B.
Source: Cross Country Canada
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