Cross-Country Skiing: Antoine Cyr Aims to Leverage Rare World Cup Event in Canada

The Canadian cross country skier Antoine Cyr feels right at home at the Canmore Nordic Centre. He hopes that this distinctive Canadian stop on the World Cup circuit will give him an edge.

The 25-year-old native of Gatineau is leading a host team of 26 athletes at this first World Cup to be held in Canmore, Alberta in eight years. Events kick off Friday with the men’s and women’s 10 km races, and will round off with sprints next Tuesday.

Having been the venue for the cross-country skiing and biathlon events at the Calgary Olympics in 1988, the Canmore Nordic Centre has now become a hub for Canadian cross-country skiing. Cyr spends multiple weeks there each year, training and competing.

“I know this track like the back of my hand. I’ve been here numerous times”, said Cyr. “Even though I’m from the other side of the country, I feel at home this week. I feel I have a home turf advantage.”

About 200 cross-country skiers from 19 countries will gather at CNC, west of Calgary.

“We spend five months of the year in Europe. It does not often happen that we get to return to North America in the middle of the season”, the Quebec native emphasized.

The last time Canada hosted a World Cup was in 2019, in Quebec, where two-time world champion, Alex Harvey, delivered his final races on the Plains of Abraham. Cyr made his World Cup debut there.

“That was a weekend I’ll remember for the rest of my life”, assured Cyr.

He and Graham Ritchie claimed fifth place in the team sprint at the Beijing Olympics in 2022. The pair ended up just outside the podium at the 2023 World Championships in Planica, Slovenia. However, this race is not part of the Canmore World Cup program.

“There aren’t many of them”, said Cyr. “We might get one or two a season. It would have been great to have a team sprint in Canmore, but I’m going to focus on the other competitions and do the best I can.”

Individual sprints will be held on Saturday, followed by a 20 km race on Sunday. Skiers can rest on Monday before a final sprint on Tuesday.

Cyr narrowly missed his first World Cup podium last season when he came fourth in the 15km Val di Fiemme race in Italy. With two top 10 finishes this season, he is currently ranked 13th overall.

“If I can stay close to the top 10 after the weekend, it will be mission accomplished”, he stated.

The season is dominated by the Norwegians, led by Harald Oestberg Amundsen, who hold the top four spots in the male standings. The American, Jessie Diggins, holds the top position for the women.

The FIS continues to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in its competitions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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