Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Young Canadians ski to 6th place in Nordic World Juniors mixed team relay

Alison Mackie, Xavier McKeever, Alexandra Luxmoore and Luke Allan combined for a solid result at Whistler Olympic Park
Left to right: Alison Mackie, Alexandra Luxmoore, Xavier McKeever and Luke Allan of Team Canada at the Nordic Ski World Juniors on Feb. 4, 2023.

They went against a number of opposing teams with multiple podium finishers each, but Nordiq Canada’s junior mixed relay squad gritted its way to a respectable sixth place on Feb. 4 at the 2023 Nordic Ski World Juniors in Whistler. Alison Mackie, Xavier McKeever, Alexandra Luxmoore and Luke Allan each skied one five-kilometre leg of the race, combining for a time of 53 minutes and 18 seconds. 

“This is a super awesome result for such a young team in a deep field,” said Allan in a press release. The Ottawa, Ont. native was tasked with skiing the anchor leg for the young Canadians. 

The mixed team relay involves two men and two women, each practicing one of the two main cross-country skiing techniques. The first two athletes go in the classic ski format, while the last two team members perform the skate-skiing legs.

Good skis, good performances

First up was Mackie of Edmonton, Alta. The 17-year-old, who has had a breakthrough week with two top-15 finishes in addition to qualifying for the sprint heats, was in seventh when she handed off to another Albertan: 19-year-old McKeever of Canmore. Motivated after his 13th-place result on Jan. 30, McKeever pushed the pace up the hilly 20-kilometre Olympic venue to gain valuable time along with a spot in the standings.

“I think the weather definitely was a little bit challenging…but I think we were ready for it,” he said, referring to the bursts of messy mixed precipitation falling on Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) this Saturday. “Big shout-out to all the [wax technicians] for all their hard work this week, because they're the real backbone of this whole organization.

“Without good skis, you can't really have a good performance, so I just want to really recognize that they did a great job.” 

Luxmoore lost 10 seconds on the field racing the first of two skate-ski legs but battled hard to keep her unit in the mix. “I think [relays] are great,” said the 18-year-old. “You have to push, not only for yourself, but for everyone else.”

The Revelstoke, B.C. native set the stage for Allan. He made time back up for Canada as he hustled through Callaghan Valley to secure a top-6 finish.

“The American started out five seconds ahead of me. I had some quick skis on my feet so I was able to settle in behind him for just over three kilometres of the race,” said the 19-year-old Ontarian, who was drafting behind his Team USA opponent to conserve energy. “With the pressure of the chase pack behind us, I was able to pick up the pace for the next kilometre and ski by him to create a little gap for sixth place.”

Norway forged ahead to win the team World Championship title with a time of 51:32. The Swedes were 33 seconds back at 52:06, taking silver, and Italy won the fight for bronze in a time of 52:12.

A positive ending

All four Canadians were grateful to end their World Juniors experience on a higher note after the ups and downs of the preceding week. 

“I struggled a little bit this week in some races,” admitted McKeever, who finished a disappointing 28th in Feb. 2’s 10-kilometre individual start. “So to finally put everything together and find my race attitude is really good…because I didn't really want to leave here searching, or [feeling] kind of lost. It’s a good confidence boost going forward.” 

“I felt like the course was just lined with people cheering for us, especially Canadians, so it was such an easy race in that sense,” added Allan. “The whole way up all the big climbs, and even coming into the stadium, [there were] lots of people cheering.” 

There has previously been some doubt regarding Nordiq Canada’s relevance on the world stage after 2019, when five-time FIS World Championship medallist and three-time Olympian Alex Harvey retired. Mackie believes that she and her peers can help fill those boots, in time. 

“[These World Juniors] are a lot of motivation,” she said. “We have a lot of potential, and that lends us a lot of motivation and a lot of drive for the next few years of World Juniors and the next Olympic quadrennial.”

Full results are available on the Nordic Ski World Juniors website.