While Olivier Levielle stole the show on Day 4 by breaking Canada’s 13 year podium drought at the Junior World Championships with a surprise bronze in the Junior 10km, our four U23 men toughed it out over 15km in Vuokatti, Finland’s bitter cold. Antoine Cyr lead the way in 18th, followed by Graham Ritchie and Remi Drolet in 20th and 21st, with a tough outing for Sam Hendry back in 40th.
After a hard day of racing in Finland, we capped off the day with an evening FaceTime call with Remi, Antoine and Graham. Transcribed interview is below:
Hey guys, 2nd race of the event – how did it go today?
It was a pretty strong field today with the top guys who have been getting strong results on the World Cup today such as Moch (GER), Gus (Schumacher – USA), Lapalus (FRA). It was a tough course, but the course I think was representative of what we’d see in Canada, and the weather was very Canadian-like. It was good, I just went hard from the gun. I didn’t think I went that hard but by the time I hit the third lap I was wondering if I over cooked it and then I started slipping down in the splits. But yeah, good race overall. I think the shape is really good, its missing a little something but it’s getting there.Antoine Cyr (Skinouk) – 18th 15km Skate
I think it was a really good fight out there and I put in a really good effort. I think it’s good going forward. I was really strong mentally today than I have been in other races this year. It wasn’t quite the racing I was hoping for because of factors like not wearing enough clothes, but those are on me. I think we had a great support staff around us and we had great skis and I think the team has been doing well here and it’s been great to see the juniors getting some good results here.Remi Drolet (Black Jack) – 21st 15km Skate
Today was pretty good overall, we had killer skis today which was awesome. The course kind of snuck up on you. The first lap was super smooth and strong and I was feeling good. And then the second lap came around and I was thinking I needed to tone it back a little or bad things are going to happen. I eventually found a good groove and a good pace and just tried to keep that pace the whole rest of the race and then finish hard on the last lap. I feel ike I accomplished that and was super gassed at the end. The course was really hard. And the cold was a bit hard, but it was okay for us, we’re used to it. It was a good day overall. It is just so nice to be able to race after the worry that everything was going to be cancelled because its too cold. It was warmer today.Graham Ritchie (Georgian Nordic) – 20th 15km Skate
Huge day with Olivier on the Podium. How’s the team energy?
I think everyone is super pumped for the result, I don’t think anyone of us expected it and even I was the one who was saying before than on a good day he could probably do a top-15 [result], but a podium was for sure a surprise. The team spirit is really high, but COVID makes it hard to celebrate with the team. We had a little Bro song playing like you guys used to do on the world cup when Alex used to get a good result so we tried to keep the tradition going.Antoine Cyr
Everyone was super stoked, and like unreal result for Tom (Stephen) as well and think they got overshadowed a bit because of the bronze, but like that’s killer. The kid’s got two more years of junior left to go and he’s pulling a top-10 this year.Graham Richie
There’s no U23 30km on the program this year, how do you guys feel about that?
We know we’re not the only ones [who are disappointed], we’ve talked to people from other countries and everyone’s in the same boat and wondering what the race organizers were thinking. We would love to see the 30km back when the Championships come to Canada, for sure. It’s just a missed opportunity here.Graham Ritchie
I think we’re all really bummed and disappointed that we didn’t get to race it this year.Remi Drolet (4th in the 2020 World Junior 30km Skate)
Next up is the relay and Senior World Champs, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
For me, I’d love to get a top 30. I think I have the shape for it. It’s been hard racing and I got sick in Falun and couldn’t race there. I think for the rest of the season I just want to get a top 30 and get that out of the way and get some more world cup experience that I feel like I’m lacking in.Antoine Cyr
My goal is pretty similar to Tony, I’d like to get a top-30 and I also really would like to feel like I’ve put in some good races. Getting results is important and that’s one of my goals, but I also want to know that I had a good race on the day even if it’s not a top-30 and I want to achieve that by the end of the year.Remi Drolet
Pretty much the same. I’d like to get a top-30 at world champs. And more just focusing on the sprinting and trying to be in the top-30 every time. I only have a few opportunities if I continue on with the season probably just racing sprints for the most part, so just trying to get the job done there and get some top-30’s.”Graham Ritchie
The World Juniors/U23’s are coming to Canada in 2023. What does that mean to you?
As Junior’s and U23’s, your opportunities to race against other countries happens once a year and that even has been in Europe or Scandanavia for so many years now. There was Soldier Hollow, but that was in the US and at 1600m, so it was pretty hard there. I think having an event in Canada is just going to be unreal for the Juniors and U23’s to race on a home course, home soil, home crowd. People don’t realize it, but it makes a massive difference. We all wish we could be racing that one.Antoine Cyr
I’m really looking forward to it. I think it will be a great opportunity and I know that Whistler will put on a great event. They’ve got some courses that are as hard, if not harder, than previous championships that have been held, and I think Canadians will be ready for it and that we can do really well there.Remi Drolet
Any last words?
Thank you to everyone who’s follow us at home. It helps to know that people are behind us every step of the way through the good times and the hard times.Remi Drolet
Thanks guys and best of luck with the upcoming races!