Russian routs competition

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

Speed will take over today at the 30th Gatineau Loppet.

The 53-km freestyle will be the headline event at the annual celebration of cross-country skiing and the Canadian leg of the Worldloppet circuit when the competitors hit the trails from the Mont Bleu stadium and head through Gatineau Park at 9 a.m. this morning.

There are 3,000 skiers registered for this weekend's events, representing 20 countries.

In honour of the 30th anniversary of the event, competitors today will be battling for the Gatineau Loppet Challenge, which will recognize the top performers from both yesterday's classic and today's freestyle events. For the men, it will be in the 53-km distance, while the women are competing in both the 29-km and 53-km events. All competitors must complete the entire distance both days.

In yesterday's classic events, Russia's Yuri Kozlov won the men's 53-km race handily with a time of two hours, 43 minutes and seven seconds, almost seven minutes better than runner-up and loppet regular Phil Shaw of Rosemere, Que. Shaw clocked a time of 2:49:55. Finishing third was Pierre Lavoie of La Baie, Que., in 2:51:01.

The top local finisher was Wayne Dustin of Kanata in fifth with a time of 2:56:05.

On the women's side, Louise Martineau of Rimouski, Que., was in first place with a time of 3:29:24, followed by American Taylor Leach (3:31:21) and Teresa White of Smithers, B.C., with a time of 3:36:49.

Kanata's Carley Kenwell was fourth in 3:37:57.

In the 29-km classic yesterday, Natalya Kuziak of Chelsea led the way for the women with a time of 1:50:47, winning comfortably over Ottawa's Stephanie Rees, who had a time of 1:55:37.

Mathias Purdon of Owen Sound won the men's division of the 29-km in a sprint to the finish over Ottawa's Aiden Lennie. Purdon edged Lennie with a time of 1:31:00, just .03 of a second ahead of the local competitor.

In the 16-km classic yesterday, the McVicar girls from Kanata took the top two spots with Julie clocking a time of 55:52 and Danielle, 59:59. Ottawa's Michael Vieira won the men's 16K with a time of 50:53. Bevan Ferreira of Nelson, B.C., was second with a time of 51:27 and a pair of Oakville skiers, Patrick and Nicholas Monette, were third and fourth in 52:37 and 52:45, respectively.

BERBUE A WINNER

In the 5-km classic yesterday, Gatineau's Noemi Berbue won the women's race with a time of 16:52, beating out Gatineau's Sofia Attali (17:20).

The men's 5-km classic went to Ezekiel Williams of Cantley in a time of 14:35. Chelsea's Riel Allain was second in 15 minutes flat.

Other events today include the 10-km freestyle at 1 p.m.

The defending champion in the men's 53-km freestyle is Stephen Hart of Thunder Bay, while Erik Carleton of Canmore, B.C., was second. Brooke Gosling of Canmore won the women's 53K last year, followed by Nikki Kassel of Prince George, B.C.


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