Trials and tribulations

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:07 PM ET

Brooke Gosling has been racing angry lately.

But she had a big smile on her face when she took the top step on the podium after the 53-km freestyle at the 29th Keskinada Loppet yesterday.

"I didn't have a great (national team) trials and I missed out on going to the worlds," said the 26-year-old native of Orangeville who nows lives and trains in Canmore, Alta.

"I've been letting off a little steam and skiing a little bit angry."

Gosling, who was third in this race two years ago, said she got sick around Christmas time and never really recovered her form in time for the national team trials.

But she looked to be in good shape yesterday as she posted a time of two hours, 48 minutes and 8.4 seconds. That put her almost three minutes ahead of x.c.com teammate Nikki Kassel of Prince George, B.C., who finished in a time of 2:51:21.6.

Third place went to Ottawa's Sheila Kealey (2:51:53.0).

Gosling was in a pack of skiers in the early part of the race, but felt strong, so she decided to up the pace and see if anybody followed along.

"Nobody came," she said.

She pulled away and caught up to a group of men.

"When you ski with the men, you get out of your comfort zone and I think it's definitely good to do that," she said.

On the men's side, Stephen Hart of Thunder Bay survived a scary early crash to go on and win the men's 53-km skate.

The spill happened at around the five-km mark, where there was a sharp turn. Hart said there was snow on top of some ice and "the loose layer just sheared away."

Another skier went flying over him and hit a tree and Hart said they were lucky not to get hurt. Fortunately, because it happened early, Hart had time to collect himself, get back in the race and regain contact with the pack.

Hart, 26, said the demanding elevation changes in the course worked to his advantage. He said he's not a strong sprinter and on flat courses the other competitors often take it easy and have lots left for the finish and that puts him at a disadvantage.

Yesterday's race wound up with a sprint to the finish as Hart and Erik Carleton of Canmore entered the finishing shoot with Hart holding a slim lead. He selected the middle lane, Carleton went to his left and the chugged down the stretch.

Carleton never caught up to Hart and he edged him by .9 of a second. Cyrus Kangarloo of Calgary was third and Ottawa's Karl Saidla was fourth.

"I don't usually have that good a sprint, but I think because everybody was tired they couldn't really sprint," said Hart. "That last 200 metres looked a lot longer than I thought."

Hart took the lead with about 10 km to go as members of the lead group fell by the wayside on the climbs.

Hart said he just finished his Masters degree in forestry at Lakehead University, but is planning to keep competing.

"I decided I'd give myself another couple of years of hard skiing and if it keeps being fun, I'll continue," he said.

In the 25-km freestyle, Ottawa's Gavin Hamilton topped a podium of strong local performers. He won the race in a time of 1:16:45.2, while Ottawa's Chris Mamen was about a minute behind at 1:17:59.1.

Gatineau's Patrice Dore was third 1:21:24.1.

On the women's side, Brandy Stewart of Palo Alto, Calif., came close to a double as she recorded her second runnerup finish of the weekend. She was second in the 25-km skate behind Andrea Dupont of Waterloo. Stewart was also second in the women's 53-km classic Saturday.

Dupont won yesterday in a time of 1:28:31.8, while Stewart clocked in at 1:33:47.9. Karine Perrin of Ste-Adele, Que., was third in 1:35:10.6.

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TOP THREES

MEN'S 53-KM SKATE

1. Stephen Hart, Thunder Bay, 2:28:34.8

2. Erik Carleton, Canmore, Alta., 2:28:35.7

3. Cyrus Kangarloo, Calgary, Alta., 2:29:13.0

WOMEN'S 53-KM SKATE

1. Brooke Gosling, Canmore, Alta., 2:48:08.4

2. Nikki Kassel, Prince George, B.C., 2:51:21.6

3. Sheila Kealey, Ottawa, 2:51:53.0

MEN'S 25-KM SKATE

1. Gavin Hamilton, Ottawa, 1:16:45.2

2. Chris Mamen, Ottawa, 1:17:59.1

3. Patrice Dore, Gatineau, 1:21:24.1

WOMEN'S 25-KM SKATE

1. Andrea Dupont, Waterloo, 1:28:31.8

2. Brandy Stewart, Palo Alto, Calif., 1:33:47.9

3. Karine Perrin, Ste-Adele, Que., 1:35:47.9

MEN'S 10-KM SKATE

1. Matthew Delaney, Lake Placid, N.Y., 23:20.9

2. Andrew Wynd, Ottawa, 23:21.3

3. Chad Day, Potsdam. N.Y., 23:22.1

WOMEN'S 10-KM SKATE

1. Stephanie Drolet, Lac St-Faustin, Que., 26:36.4

2. Noemi Berube, Gatineau, 27:30.3

3. Caroline Drolet, Lac St-Faustin, Que., 28:03.5


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