Nordiq Canada has named 10 athletes who will wear the nation’s colours at the 2021 FIS World Nordic Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, February 23 – March 7.
Earning their coveted spots based on results achieved at the 2020-21 World Cup races, five women and five men will bring the maple leaf to the start line in all races throughout the two-week Nordic festival.
“Not having competitions in Canada this season to properly evaluate athlete performance, we developed an objective criteria for our World Cup trip, and subsequently the World Championships, in consultation with the High Performance Committee with a focus on managing risks associated with the ongoing pandemic,” said Kate Boyd, high performance director, Nordiq Canada. “Travelling and competing during these times has not been easy, however, each of our national team athletes have shown their resilience and adaptability through this adversity. They have stepped up and delivered. We look forward to now shifting our focus to performing on the biggest stage of the year at the World Championships.”
Five Canadians, who have celebrated multiple career-best performances as a team since returning to the World Cup circuit, will toe the line in women’s racing. Katherine Stewart-Jones (Chelsea, Que.), who is coming off an impressive 17th-place finish in Falun, Sweden, leads the Canadian charge. The 25-year-old will be joined by Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Athabasca, Alta.) and Cendrine Browne (Saint-Jérôme, Que.) who have both also stormed into the top-30 this year. MacIsaac-Jones sprinted to 18th place in Ulricehamn, Sweden, while Browne has two, top-30 finishes including a career-best 23rd place result. Olympian, Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse), will be looking for a breakthrough of her own at the premiere event on the Nordic calendar this season. Laura Leclair (Quebec City) will make her World Championship debut at the elite level.
Canada will also field a team of five male athletes who have been living, training and competing in a controlled bubble while following robust protocols since traveling to Europe in early January.
The lone Olympian Russell Kennedy (Canmore, Alta.), who has skied into the top-30 twice himself this season, will be counted on to lead the young and determined group of men making their first trip to the elite World Championships. Graham Ritchie (Parry Sound, Ont.), Rémi Drolet (Rossland, B.C.), and Antoine Cyr (Gatineau, Que.) – who are all fresh off representing Canada at the Under23 World Championships last week in Finland – will now head to Germany to test themselves against the world’s best. Philippe Boucher (Levis, Que.) rounds out the men’s squad.
“This is a dynamic group of athletes focused on delivering results when it counts the most,” added Boyd. “Being a younger team, the World Championships are a key measuring stick in their continued progression. These athletes have all worked hard to achieve this honour of representing Canada, and I know they will make the country proud.”
It is the third time Oberstdorf has hosted the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships. The last time the world’s best gathered in the German ski town in 2005, Sara Renner made history while sprinting to Canada’s first-ever World Championship medal when she won the bronze. The triumph helped open the doors for 15 years of sustained medal-winning success by a new generation of Canadian cross-country skiers.
Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey picked up the torch from Renner and two-time Olympic medallist, Beckie Scott, when they shocked the world by winning the team sprint race at the 2011 event. Harvey skied his way to the World Championship podium four more times in individual races throughout his illustrious career, claiming one more gold (2017 Lahti – 50km skate); one silver (2015 Falun – sprint); two bronze (2015 Falun – 30km skiathlon, 2013 Val di Fiemme – sprint).
Nordiq Canada is the governing body of para-nordic and cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Swix and Lanctôt Sports– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, Nordiq Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and World champions.