Rezac does the trick

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

It was another Rezac replay yesterday. The skiing machine from the Czech Republic swept all the races he entered at the 27th Keskinada Loppet again, registering his second-straight hat trick at Canada's biggest cross-country skiing competition.

In a replay of last year, Stanislav Rezac nipped Ivan Babikov, a Russian native now based in Canmore, Alba., to win the 52-km Hilton Lac-Leamy freestyle event yesterday.

Rezac, already the winner in the Atomic Sprints Friday night and Saturday's 52-km Salomon classic event, beat out Babikov in a sprint to the line in another thrilling finish to the Keski's headline event.

Rezac clocked a time of two hours, 13 minutes, 16.9 seconds, less than a second ahead of Babikov (2:13:17.6).

Steve Cyr of Shannon, Que., a member of Canada's biathlon team,was third with a time of 2:15:30.5.

"We were together all race. I was even leading coming to the finish line, but he found a way to beat me (again) at the finish line," said Babikov, a member of the x-c.com racing team.

"(Rezac)'s a strong marathon skier. He's a tough guy to beat."

Babikov, who's been cleaning up in competitions in the United States, is awaiting his Canadian citizenship.

SIMILAR STRATEGY

Rezac employed a similar strategy to Saturday when he broke away around the 46-km mark, leaving all in his wake. He did it to Philippe Villeneuve, the manager of the x-c.com team and one of Babikov's mentors, in the 52-km Salomon classic Saturday.

Cyr could only watch. "My goal was to win here. I really tough I was capable of finishing first," he said.

"It started well. I was with the leaders until the 46th km. They rocketed and I wasn't able to catch them."

Rezac's impressive double-triple allowed the weekend to finish on a positive note after Saturday's events were darkened by the death of 46-year-old Robert Soboleksi of Torrington, Ct., during the 25-km classic event.

He suffered a massive heart attack and passed away despite the heroic efforts of a number of his fellow competitors.

In the women's 52-km event yesterday, Muriel Marin of France won with a time of 2:39:58.3, beating out Ottawa's Sheila Kealey, who turned in a time of 2:41:40.0. Brooke Gosling of Canmore, Alba., was third in 2:44:51.1.

"(It was) my first time here and I enjoyed it," said Marin. "I even got the chance to go and skate on your Rideau Canal. It's been a unforgettable weekend."

TWO IN A ROW

In the 28-km Bell Freestyle, Meiko Hoemke of Salt Lake City made it two in a row with a win to go with his victory Saturday in the classic. He had a time of 1:19:16.3 to easily beat out Timothy Donahue of New York. (1:22:09.0).

Sacha Desfosses of Prevost, Que., was third in a time of 1:24:57.5.

On the women's side, American Zoe Owers won in a time of 1:38:20.0, beating out Gatineau's Karine Labonte (1:41:11.6).

In the Norway Centennial 10-km freestyle, Jimbo Allot of Potsdam, N.Y., had a decisive win with a time of 23:55.7. He was followed by Frederik Legris of St-Jerome, Que., (24:45.7) and Justin Demers of Gatineau (24:59.6).

Stephanie Drolt of St-Faustin, Que., won the women's side with a time of 26:48.2, ahead of Gatineau's Mareck Beaudoin-Bacon.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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