P.G. ski crosser Gairns matches career best in World Cup qualifying

Tiana Gairns of Prince George was the fifth-fastest qualifier in World Cup ski cross results from the slopes of Bakuriani, Georgia.

The 22-year-old Gairns matched her career-best qualifying result when she completed the course Friday in 1:21.23, 1.64 seconds behind pace-setter Fanny Smith of Switzerland, who clocked 1:19.59.

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Rounding out the top-three were Marielle Berger Sabbatel of France (1:20.10, +0.51) and Sandra Naeslund of Sweden (1:20.35, +0.76). Naeslund is coming off back-to-back wins on the World Cup last weekend in Reiteralm, Austria and at the world championships two weeks ago in Idre Fjall, Sweden.

Marielle Thompson of Whistler, the reigning Olympic champion, was fourth Friday (1:21.10, +1.51).

In other Canadian women’s qualifying results, Zoe Chore of Cranbrook was 11th (+3.11) and Hannah Schmidt of Ottawa was 12th (+3.12).

Gairns was also fifth in her qualifying run at the world championships Feb. 13 in Idre Fjall, Sweden.

In qualifying races, skiers race the clock individually, vying for at least a top-16 finish needed to advance to the quarterfinal heats. In race heats, four skiers compete head-to-head in a dash for the finish, with only to top two advancing to the next round.

In the men’s qualifying Friday in Bakuriani, Kristof Mahler of Canmore was the top Canadian in fifth place. Mahler covered the course in 1:156.95, six-tenths of a second behind Bastien Midol of France, who clocked 1:15.35 to lead the 38-athlete men’s field.

Francois Place of France (1:15.73, +0.38) and Robert Winkler of Austria (1:15.89, +0.54) also made the top-three. In other Canadian results, Reece Howden of Cultus Lake, the World Cup points leader, was 12th (+1.05); Chris Del Bosco of Montreal was 19th (+1.52); Brady Leman of Calgary was 22nd (+1.72), Jared Schmidt of Ottawa was 27th (+1.92); and Carson Cook of Edmonton was 33rd (+2.60).

Mahler, Howden, Thompson, Gairns, Chore and Hannah Schmidt all made the cut for Saturday’s races. A team event is scheduled for Sunday in Bakuriani.

The individual races will be streamed live on cbc.ca starting tonight at 11:30 p.m. and taped coverage will be shown at noon Saturday on the CBC website and on CBC TV.


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