Antoine Cyr put an exclamation point to his season by finishing eighth in the 20 km classic presented in a mass start on Sunday in Lahti, at the end of the cross-country skiing World Cup calendar. If he was able to smell the podium again, the Quebecer assures that he will be back even stronger at the next opportunity.
In the end, Cyr was 8.4 seconds behind the winner, Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo of Norway (44 minutes 13 seconds), and just 2.4 seconds separated him from Sweden’s William Poromaa, the bronze medalist.
Simple numbers that perfectly sum up the emotions he experienced in the last part of the event, where he was fighting alongside the world elite of his sport.
“I was there, with the best. That was the most important thing. They are big names and there are several big champions in the mix. It can be intimidating, but you have to get over it. Today, I believed in my chances of making a podium and I’m proud of the way I raced,” he summed up after the event.
Cyr also showed tenacity at the end of the race after a Norwegian cross-country skier fell in front of him on the very last climb of the course. “I had to slow down to get around it and I lost a good second,” he said. It doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a big difference in the end. It’s bad luck and it’s part of the sport. »
However, this did not prevent him from obtaining his fourth individual top 10 of the campaign. Among other things, he had signed the best performance of his career in Val di Fiemme, Italy, with a fourth place in early January.
It is therefore with the feeling of accomplishment and motivation at its highest level that he will return to Quebec at the beginning of the week to take advantage of a healthy rest period.
“I wanted to finish strong, especially after tougher Worlds, and I didn’t miss my chance. Now I can go home with my head held high. I’m super happy with what we’ve achieved this season,” he concluded.
Olivier Léveillé ranks in the top 20
Also in action on Sunday, Olivier Léveillé (1 minute 12.5 seconds) also finished his season in style with a 20th place. Even if it is his best individual result of the 2022-23 calendar, the Sherbrooke resident admits to having crossed the finish line with a little frustration. A feeling that quickly dissipated when he saw his ranking a few moments later.
“I had a very good form today and I would have liked to go and play even more up front. However, I was caught behind a fall after 7.5 kilometers and found myself in a bad position. After that, I was in catch-up mode until the end, but I still managed to climb up to 20th place almost solo,” he explained.
“It’s a good learning curve for the next mass start races and still a great way to end the year. I remain a little unsatisfied, but I saw that I was able to execute this kind of strategy. »
On the women’s side, Katherine Stewart-Jones collected the best result of the maple leaf by finishing 37th. The Chelsea cross-country skier finished just over 3 minutes behind Norway’s Anne Kjersti Kalvaa (51 minutes 4.3 seconds), champion of the event.
She won in the sprint ahead of Sweden’s Jonna Sundling (0.9 seconds) and Germany’s Katharina Henning (1.1 seconds). The only other Quebecer in the running, Liliane Gagnon, was unable to complete the race.