LAHTI, Finland â€” Canada’s Cendrine Browne skied into the elite group of 30 for the first time in her career at the world cross-country ski championships on Saturday.
The 23-year-old posted a career-best finish of one hour 11 minutes 52.8 seconds in the women’s 30-kilometre skate-ski marathon to close her 2017 world championships.
“I really surprised myself today. I had the legs, the power and the shape so it was an awesome race,” said the beaming Saint-Jerome, Que., product, who finished 26th.
Browne was in the lead pack matching strides with the best in the world for the first half of the Nordic grind. She dropped off the lead group with a handful of other women at the halfway point of the race, and was still competing in the top-20 until the final four kilometres where she dropped once again to 26th.
“I was in that first pack for a while. I was feeling no pain for the first 10 kilometres and kept thinking ‘I can do this,'” said Browne. “This gives me a lot of confidence for the future and shows me the Canadian girls can be in the top-30 with the best in the world. We are competitive. We can do this.”
A group of young athletes taking small, yet significant, strides forward in their development this year have had a solid world championships, highlighted by a 10th-place finish in the 4×5-km relay on Thursday.
Dahria Beatty of Whitehorse, who has been leading the next generation of elite women for most of the year, was also in the lead group for the first five kilometres before the pace got the best of her. The 22-year-old finished just outside the top-30 in 34th with a time of 1:13:22.0.
Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse and Katherine Stewart-Jones of Chelsea, Que., finished 40th and 41st respectively.
The Norwegians swept the women’s podium. Marit Bjoergen topped her teammates by two seconds to take the gold medal with a time of 1:08:36.8. Heidi Weng won a photo finish for the silver medal over Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. Both athletes stopped the clocked at 1:08:38.7.
The Canadian Press