22 décembre 2009

Dasha Gaiazova pulls in front in the women's classic sprint at the Canmore Nordic Centre
on Saturday, to win a spot to compete at the Olympics.
photo : Pam Doyle, Banff Crag & Canyon

Gaiazova qualifies for Olympics

Shawn Slaght

Canada's Dasha Gaiazova and Stefan Kuhn have punched their tickets to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler.

Gaiazova and Kuhn were the winners of the Haywood NorAm Cup classic sprint Saturday at the Canmore Nordic Centre, clinching themselves of spot on the Canadian national Olympic team.

Gaiazova of Banff, Alta., was dominant. After the qualifying run she was near three seconds ahead of the second place qualifier, Shayla Swanson of Calgary.

"It never gets easier," said Gaiazova, who will be competing in her first Olympic games. "I came in great shape and racing really well."

Gaiazova couldn't be caught in the heat round either. While many of the top skiers were just positioning themselves to move on to the next round, Gaiazova cruised to victories in the quarter-finals and semifinals.

Gaiazova broke away from the pack in the final with fourth place qualifier Madeleine Williams of Edmonton coming in second and third place went to seventh place qualifier Andrea Dupont of Timmins, Ont.

"My goal today was to charge and I did really well, especially in the final," Gaiazova said.

She said the course was extremely difficult for a sprint event, but it was a good tune up heading for the Olympics.

Williams and Dupont were able to knock Swanson down to fifth place and third place qualifier Rhonda Jewett of Canmore finished in fourth place. The top American was Laura Valaas in sixth place.

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