Whistler XC skiers post best showing yet at provincials 

Davies, Murdoch take B.C. Cup titles

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The Whistler Nordics made it a goal at the start of the season to train athletes for the national cross country championships in Quebec, and at the provincial championships at Larch Hills in Salmon Arm last weekend showed that that they're more than ready.

In PeeWee Boys A, the Whistler Nordics' Joe Davies was first in the 2001 group.

In PeeWee Boys B, Michael Murdoch was first in the 2000 group by over 35 seconds. Fraser Doak was sixth, Sam Johnston seventh and Ian Davidson 10th.

Benita Peiffer was fifth in PeeWee Girls B, while Lauren Kilfoy McKay was seventh out of 17 racers.

Austin Reith placed fifth in Midget Boys, about 12 seconds off the podium after five kilometres of racing.

In Juvenile Girls, Jenya Nordin was eight overall and third in the 1996 group. Lauren Doak was 13th overall and fifth among 1996 racers.

Nicki Murdoch was seventh overall in Junior Girls and fourth in the 1994 category.

Birken Metza was 19th in junior boys.

Whistler's Camille Cheskey was second in the Open Men.

Brent Murdoch was eighth in 1962-71 Men.

Cheryl Morningstar was third in 1952-61 Female.

The Whistler Nordics also put four teams into the relay category.

In the boys' 3x1.5km race, the Yeah Right team — Joe Davies, Ian Davidson and Sam Johnston — was second overall.

In the girl's race, Team Lady Bug — Lauren McKay, Alisa Feuz and Benita Peiffer — was first out of 18 teams, with a time that would have placed them third out of 17 teams in the boys' race.

In Midget Boys the Wait What team — Austin Reith, Fraser Doak and Michael Murdoch — was third out of 12 teams.

In Junior Women, the Say What team — Jenya Nordin, Lauren Doak and Nicki Murdoch — were second out of 12 teams.

In Senior Women, the Lovely Ladies — Cheryl Morningstar, Nicola Kilfoy and Gwendolyn Kennedy — were seventh out of 19 teams.

Coach Maria Lundgren could not make the trip but said she was proud of the local athletes.

"I understand that it was tough conditions and with the weather it was really tough for waxing," she said. "Most of the kids had fast skis, but some were not as good and a lot depends on whether your skis freeze up or not. It was still good results."

As well as the provincials, the top overall racers on the B.C. Cup series were recognized this past weekend.

The Whistler Nordics placed sixth out of 16 clubs, while several athletes also ranked in the top of their category.

Nicki Murdoch and Joe Davies won the overall awards for their age groups; Jenya Nordin, Austin Reith and Brent Murdoch were second; Michael Murdoch and Benita Peiffer were third.

"I don't think any Whistler skiers have won the overall, so that's pretty cool," said Lundgren.

Kershaw's gold proves a point

There are certain sports where Canada is an outsider, and while athletes may win the occasional medal we're nowhere close to being regarded as a top nation. That's rapidly changing in cross-country skiing, where athletes like Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey are challenging the podium every weekend.

Most recently at the World Cup in Poland, Kershaw took a gold medal in the sprint, surging ahead of Nikolay Morilov of Russia and Ola Vigen Hattestad of Norway for top spot. It was his second gold medal, both this season and overall in his career — not including the win at the world championships he shared with Harvey last season in the team pursuit — as well as his fourth medal this season. He's also third overall in the rankings, up against the biggest names in the sport for the last several years.

In an interview Kershaw was uncomfortable being compared to top stars Dario Cologna of Switzerland — now leading the World Cup tour — and Petter Northug Jr. of Norway.

"Cologna and Northug are generational skiers," Kershaw told The Globe and Mail. "They only come along every 40, 50 years. You can't mention my name with theirs. But it's been a great last six weeks."

Kershaw has been on a tear since Christmas, placing fourth overall on the seven-stage, nine-day Tour de Ski and racking up four World Cup medals, including two gold and two bronze.

"It's been a pretty staggering run. I don't know how to explain it ... On this team, we believe in each other. All of us believe we can do it."

Harvey finished his day in 27th.

Daria Gaiazova was the top Canadian in the women's sprint, placing 30th.

In the classic race following the sprint Alex Harvey led the team in 15th after 15km while Kershaw was 25th. Gaiazova was 25th in the women's 10km classic race.

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