Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 9, 2013

Colin Abbott makes the grade, heads for Czech Republic

Whitehorse cross-country skier Colin Abbott achieved a lifelong dream Monday, when he was named to the Canadian team attending the upcoming U-23 World Championship in Liberec, Czech Republic.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

MADE THE CUT – Whitehorse XC skier Colin Abbott has been named to the U-23 World Championship team.

Whitehorse cross-country skier Colin Abbott achieved a lifelong dream Monday, when he was named to the Canadian team attending the upcoming U-23 World Championship in Liberec, Czech Republic.

The team is made up of the country’s top-four male and female skiers in their age group.

Abbott’s consistent performances in last weekend’s NorAm races in Duntroon, Ont., near Thunder Bay, led to his inclusion on the team.

He currently ranks third on the distance ranking list, after placing third in the skiathlon and fourth in the sprint.

“This is the highlight of my career to date for sure,” the 22-year-old told the Star.

“This is my last year to qualify, so it was my last shot. This was way up there on the goals I had made for this year.”

Abbott’s last major event was the 2011 World University Games in Turkey, when he attended as a member of the Carleton Ravens.

He has never represented Canada on the world stage.

“For the first time in my life, I feel this is what I’ve been expected to achieve,” Abbott said. “It’s a bit of a relief. This is what I’ve been fighting for and trying to do. That hard work is paying off.”

The FIS Nordic Junior and U-23 World Ski Championships will run from Jan. 20 to 27.

U-23 races will include a 1.4-km classic technique sprint, a 15-km free technique individual start race, and a 30-km skiathlon.

Abbott will ski each of the races.

The Yukon Elite Squad skier is joined on the men’s team by Andy Shields of Lappe, Patrick Stewart-Jones of Nakkertok and Russell Kennedy of the Canmore Nordic club.

Abbott praised his Yukon Elite teammates for their strong work this season, pointing to the formation of the six-man squad as a major reason for his success this season.

“I believe I wouldn’t have made this championship if we hadn’t formed the Yukon Elite Squad,” Abbott said. “I really became aware of what I needed to do to bring my full potential out.”

The formation of the team meant Abbott was skiing nearly year-round, and was being constantly pushed by his teammates.

While Abbott is reveling in his achievement, he said it was “kind of bittersweet” as fellow Yukon skier Knute Johnsgaard, 20, just missed the cut.

“He’s younger and has a couple of years left to make it though,” Abbott said.

Abbott remains in Thunder Bay at present, but will soon fly to Austria for five days of training before heading to the World Championships.

While the young skier does not have specific goals for the event, he will continue to try to surpass his season-best times from last year.

“I haven’t thought about it much, but I want to bring the same mindset I had this weekend to the World Championships,” he said.

Yukon Elite Squad coach Alain Masson praised his athlete’s consistency in this
season’s races.

“Colin has always shown he has the potential to make it to that level, but this season, he’s put it all together,” Masson explained. “He’s had injury and health issues in the past, but this season, his training has been very consistent.”

Masson also said Abbott’s achievement demonstrates how perseverance, hard work and mental fortitude pays off.

Masson said Abbott’s return to Whitehorse from Whistler, B.C., for training has been “a positive change.”

The Yukon Elite Squad formed in April. Each of the skiers returned from training elsewhere in the country to form the new club. 

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