Many of the top North American racers opened the season in Canmore on October 26, with the WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic presented by Buff. The classic, sprint race held on a mix of snow stored from last season and a bit of fresh new snow, saw Canadian Perianne Jones and US star Andy Newell gain comfortable victories in the sprint qualifier.
In the women's qualifying race Canada had the top 3 positions with Perianne Jones holding a 3 second margin over Chandra Crawford and 3 seconds later Alysson Marshall came in 3rd.
Andy Newell dominated the men's field of 45 racers, with a 9 second margin over Canada's Phil Widmer, and .01 seconds later Devon Kershaw.
As the morning progressed action heated up. On the women's side, Canadian teammates Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones continued their fine qualifying performances and won their heats to comfortably progress to the final. They then dominated the final with Chandra edging out Perianne at the finish by a bit over a 10th of a second.
Ida Sargent of the US finished 3rd, 5 seconds back and Alysson Marshall was a distant 4th. Elizabeth Stephen won the B final.
On the men's side USA's Andy Newell won the final (using skate skis and double poling), by almost 4 seconds over Canada's Devon Kershaw. Kris Freeman of the US was 3rd, 1 second back and the US's Skylar Davis was 4th. The second Canadian was U23 skier Patrick Stewart-Jones in 7th overall and Phil Widmer was 8th.
Participating athletes such as Devon Kershaw were enthusiastic about this first edition of the Winsport Frozen Thunder Classic, presented by Buff. "This was a great way to kick off race season and get a taste of competition at home in Canmore before heading to Europe. The Frozen Thunder course is in great shape and gives a real training advantage to our skiers," said Kershaw.
Final race results are available at zone4.ca.
Official race video available here.