Cross-Country Skiing World Cup | Antoine Cyr 0.44 seconds from a first medal

(Montreal) Cross-country skier Antoine Cyr sneaked into the final of the classic sprint on Tuesday at the World Cup in Drammen, Norway. After two races where he narrowly reached the next round, the Gatineau resident finished fourth in the final, just 0.44 seconds from his first World Cup podium.

The Drammen stage has always been significant for Antoine Cyr. When he was younger, he watched this race with his father when the idea of ​​joining the world’s cross-country skiing elite was born. The scenery of the city surrounding the track and the atmosphere nourished by the encouragement of the numerous supporters had charmed young Antoine at the time.

“It’s always an important sprint for me. It is also here that I reached the qualifying waves for the first time in the World Cup, in 2022, recalled Antoine Cyr to Sportcom. When I was younger, I thought it was really a sprint cool and that’s kind of when I decided what I wanted to do later. It’s special to be there 15 years later, alongside the best in the world and living my childhood dream. »

The ideal place to win a first World Cup medal, some would say. However, the fourth place obtained on Tuesday is far from disappointing him.

“I played my cards well and I think I skied well. The result is the icing on the sundae. I am particularly happy with my day! To be here in the sun, in Norway, the kingdom of cross-country skiing, and to achieve such a good result is really special. »

Three Norwegians defeated Cyr in the final. Alone in the lead, Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo earned 81e victory of his career on the circuit, his 13e of the season individually. When he looked behind him, he saw his compatriots Haavard Solaas Taugboel (+1.09 seconds) and Even Northung (+1.32 seconds) splitting the silver and bronze medals.

Two days after finishing 20e of the classic 50 km in Oslo, Antoine Cyr had to draw on his reserves in preparation for the sprint event. It’s finishing 11e qualifications that he realized that the form was there. Maybe more than he thought.

“I wanted to do Drammen and it was in the plans, but after an effort like the 50 km, it is extremely difficult. Yesterday (Monday), my body was pretty bruised, but I was able to recover. It was all in all in qualifying and I said to myself if it passes, so much the better,” said the man who was at his 71e departure for the World Cup.

He found himself at the heart of two very tough waves afterwards, the fastest in each round, in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals.

In both races, Cyr fell slightly behind entering the final turn of the 1.2 kilometer course. He then took his place in the left lane and, with a final effort, stretched his leg at the finish line. The video replay was necessary to determine the final result.

The strategy earned him second place in the quarter-finals, just a few centimeters behind American James Schoonmaker. He finished third in the next round, but his time of 2:39.35 allowed him to be drafted into the final.

“I had good tactics and I knew what I wanted to do. In Drammen, it happens that you get blocked on the home stretch because there are only four lines to get to the finish. By going outside I was going to have some free space to sprint and it worked well today. »

This fourth place equals his best result in the World Cup. He finished just off the podium in the 15 km classic in Val di Flemme, at last season’s Tour de Ski, as well as in the free team sprint at the World Championships a few weeks later.

Antoine Cyr’s 2023-2024 World Cup season will end this weekend in Falun, Sweden. Currently 11e in the general classification with 959 points, he hopes to finish among the 10 best in the world at the end of the classic sprint, the 10 km classic and the 20 km freestyle planned on the schedule.

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