February 15, 2006
Medal worth a million to Vermilion
BROOKES MERRITT -- Edmonton Sun

It was after 3 a.m. here when two Alberta cross-country skiers stepped onto the Olympic podium in Turin yesterday, but their hometown supporters in Vermilion and Canmore were wide awake.

"I'd fallen asleep in front of the TV, but I woke up just as the race started," said Vermilion Mayor Judy Woyewitka.

Sixteen minutes and 37.5 seconds later, Vermilion's Beckie Scott and her Canmore comrade Sara Renner had taken silver in the women's team sprint.

"Our whole community is extremely proud of Beckie, and of Sara. It's very nice for them."

Woyewitka said Vermilion will celebrate Scott's performance when she returns from Europe. The two women will stay there after the Olympics to race in the Swedish Vasaloppet - part of the World Cup circuit.

The Turin silver is the second Olympic medal Scott will bring to Vermilion, 190 km east of Edmonton.

She took gold in the five-kilometre pursuit in the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, after two skiers who finished ahead of her were caught doping.

Monday in Turin, Scott finished sixth in the 15-km pursuit.

Vaughn Cooper, of the Nordic Ski Club in Vermilion, has known Scott since she was a teenager, and said the silver makes up for the disappointing finish earlier this week.

"We figured the girls would do something special," he said. "My wife and I got up at 2 a.m. and watched the race. Everyone here is really excited for her."

At a Vermilion Elementary School pep rally for Scott, students and teachers said the silver finish was as good as gold.

"She's an icon in our school. Our motto is 'to be all you can be' and Beckie reflects that in everything she does," said school principal Trish Rawlake.

Scott, who now lives in Oregon, trained for the Olympics in Canmore, where her teammate Sara Renner lives.

The pair trained at the Bill Warren Nordic Centre, home to Cross Country Canada's offices.

CCC executive director Al Maddox said the silver was well-earned, given Renner snapped a pole midway through the six-lap race.

A sympathetic Norwegian coach on the sidelines gave her a replacement pole. Norway finished fourth.

Sweden took gold, finishing half a second ahead of Canada, and the bronze went to Finland.

"The silver has put a big smile on the face of every Canadian cross-country ski fan," Maddox said. "They're heroes, inspiring everyone from young jackrabbits to older skiers."

Local bars said last call early yesterday wasn't enough to lure fans away from TV coverage of the race's opening heats.

"We did finally close before the race started, but everybody's been back today watching the replays," said Scott Stevens, manager of the Drake Inn Pub.

"They all know we won silver, but they still cheer as (Scott) crosses the finish line."

Stevens said Renner visits the pub, and he plans to celebrate her return with marquees and "maybe something like a silver medal drink special."







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Men's 1.5km Sprint
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Men's 15km Classical
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Men's 50km Freestyle
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Men's Combined Pursuit
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Men's 4x10km Relay
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Men's Team Sprint
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Women's 1.5km Sprint
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Women's 10km Classical
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Women's 30km Freestyle
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Women's Combined Pursuit
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Women's 4x5km Relay
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Women's Team Sprint
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Past Champs