Phil Villeneuve knew when to make his move and his timing proved to be impeccable.
The 50-kilometre race at the 2013 P’ayakentsut cross-country ski race nearly came down to a photo finish but Villeneuve managed to edge out second-place finisher Elliot Holtham by seven-tenths of a second.
“It was a great little cat-and-mouse battle we had,” he said following the race. “We broke apart about halfway through and it was just the two of us from there.”
Villeneuve, who finished the 50 km in a record time of two hours, 27 minutes, 25 seconds, said it all came down to the race’s final loop.
“I was being conservative, but it was really hard to gauge him,” he said. “We were really well matched but on that last turn I decided to push the pace and I had the inside corner so I think that give me a little advantage.”
The resident of Canmore, Alta., placed third in the inaugural P’ayaks 50 km race in 2011 and third in 2012. He said he liked the minor changes to this year's course.
“It’s still a very hard course but they kept all the beautiful climbs,” he said.
Dan Packman placed third in the 50 km race, with Squamish’s Max Saenger in fourth with a time of 2:39:50. Other locals competing in the 50 km included: Volker Schneider (29th) and Rock Castrillo (52nd).
The top female in the 50 km was Sarah Max, who made her debut in the race with a time of 2:45:25. The Oregon resident said the P’ayak was a big challenge.
“This was one of the hardest races I think I’ve ever done but it was awesome,” she said. “Once we started climbing I noticed some separation and didn’t really look back. I love and hate the hills and this race had a lot of them.”
Just like Villeneuve, Max’s time set a new record and is also the first time a female has completed the course in less than three hours. Andrea Bundon placed second, with Petra Tlamkova finishing third. Both Bundon and Tlamkova posted times under three hours. Heather Adamson, who placed 12th, was the top Squamish female.
Whistler’s Camille Cheskey had the top time in the 30 km race, blazing through the course in a time of 1:31:25. Olav Stana (1:32:40) finished in second and Robert Rogotte (1:33:40) placed third. Squamish’s Roger Shirt had the top local time at 1:52:24 and finished in 30th. Former Vancouver Canuck Trevor Linden also took in the 30 km race, finishing 33rd overall with a time of 1:53:39.
Sylvie Allen won the women’s 30 km race with a time of 1:44:38, followed by Megan Wolfe (1:46:01) and then Maureen Harriman (1:46:27). Sharon Gosnell was the top Squamish racer with a time of 2:12:43 and finished in 24th.
Other winners included Alain Prat (men’s 15 km), Nicki Murdoch (women’s 15 km), Kieran Lumb (men’s youth 15 km), Anna Goodwin (women’s youth 15 km) and Lou Gibson (men’s sit ski 10 km).
Top Squamish racers in the 15 km were: Ian Lowe (17th - men’s 15 km), Stéphane Perron (27th – men’s 15 km), Diana Mauriks (13th – women’s 15 km) and Marie-France Dubois (34th – women’s 15 km).
In addition to the adult races, around 200 kids took part in the kids’ tournament and youth ski cross events. Kids were divided up into groups based on age and led through obstacle courses to test their speed and skill. Older kids were taken on a small ski-cross course in the biathlon arena. Those races featured climbing, obstacles and a downhill portion.
For a full list of results from the race, visit www.zone4.ca.