CANMORE -- It doesn't get more thrilling than this.
Canadian cross-country skiers Beckie Scott and Sara Renner brought home a silver medal yesterday in a memorable six by 1.2-km team pursuit classic in the Centennial World Cup at Canmore's Nordic Centre.
The excitement came during the final 200 metres of the race, where Renner, skiing the anchor leg in front of 4,000 screaming hometown fans, and Germany's Viola Bauer battled it out in a desperate sprint to the finish line.
Renner had the lead with about 100 metres to go but Bauer found another gear, passed her and went on to win.
"I didn't want to lead the whole leg, so I let her go ahead of me (early on)," said Renner, 29, who earned her second medal in two weeks. "My goal was to slingshot past her at the finish but I ran out of Wheaties about 10 metres before the line.
"I was just trying to get every ounce of energy in my arms to propel me forward. There wasn't much left when I got to the finish line."
Bauer and teammate Manuela Henkel took the gold in 18 minutes 36.6 seconds.
The Canadians were just a 10th of a second back.
Sweden's Lina Andersson and Anna Dahlberg picked up the bronze in 18:45.4.
Canada 2, with Chandra Crawford and Milaine Theriault, finished ninth.
Scott, who hails from Vermilion, said they decided at the dinner table Saturday night to have Renner ski the final leg.
"The last time we had success, it was the same way," said Scott, 31, who has now won five World Cup medals over the last two weeks skiing home soil in Vernon, B.C., and Canmore.
The Canadians almost led wire-to-wire. Scott finished the fifth leg by giving Renner a 0.9-second lead, which set up the amazing finish. Despite not winning, the duo was ecstatic with the effort, especially considering the event will be an Olympic sport in Turin, Feb. 10-26, for the first time.
Said Renner: "Second place is an excellent result for us. I think this is the hardest event on the circuit. You have to qualify in the morning and then come back for the final."
And Scott said yesterday's result bodes well for the upcoming Olympics.
"It's a good sign because we're close, or right with, some of the top Olympic teams like Germany and Sweden," said Scott, an Olympic gold medallist in 2002.
Renner and Scott easily made the final, winning the first semifinal in 19:38.8, while the Canada 2 team finished fifth in the second semi with a time of 19:27.8.
In the men's event, Norway 1 (Jens-Arne Svartedal and Eldar Roenning) took the gold in 16:22.4, followed by Sweden 1 (Bjoern Lind and Thobias Fredriksson) in 16:22.5, with Sweden 2 (Mats Larsson and Mikael Oestberg) taking the bronze in 16:28.1
All four Canadian teams -- Canada 1 with Drew Goldsack and George Grey; Canada 2, with Phil Widmer and Sean Crooks; Canada 3 with Dan Roycroft and Chris Jeffries; and Canada 4 with Brent McMurtry and Gordon Jewett -- failed to make the final.