After a two-week high-altitude training camp in Davos, Switzerland, cross-country skiers Antoine Cyr and Olivier Léveillé feel ready to start the World Championship, the first stage of which takes place from Friday to Ruka, Finland.
Cyr had started the season with a bang last year at Ruka, in an event challenged by Siberian cold, finishing 11th.e position to secure his qualification for the Beijing Olympics.
“I had made a villain bong last year at the first world championship of the season, he imagined, but it will be difficult to repeat the same this year in Ruka. To experience outstanding performance, the stars must align. »
If Cyr wanted to achieve his standards for Beijing early in the season, the context is different this year. “We are betting on the same recipe as last year by holding a camp in Davos, and the form is good, he indicated. We were able to compare ourselves to the French, the Swiss and the Italians during the lap times. We gave one last big push before the start of the WC. »
Even though it’s a post-Olympic year, the results are still important for the cross-country skier from Gatineau. “The aim is to perform well at the Tour de Ski in January and at the WC in Slovenia,” he adds. I’m aiming for a top 12.
Léveillé, for his part, surprised the cross-country world by achieving a top 10 and a top 20 last year, as well as qualifying for Beijing despite being just 20 years old.
“The goal is to do as well, if not better than last year,” said the Sherbrooke athlete. I don’t want to put pressure on myself, although it would be easy to do so given my results last season. I have been given power and I hope to compete with the most powerful. »
Louis Bouchard also avoids putting pressure on Léveillé. “At 21, Olivier still has everything to learn,” said National Training Center head coach Pierre-Harvey. If we only think about performance, we will miss the essentials that will allow him to really perform in 2026, at the Cortina d’Ampezzo Games. »
“The boys are in good shape, but it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen at the start of the season,” Bouchard added.
Absent from the Tour de ski since 2019, which was Alex Harvey’s last season, Canada will make a comeback this year to the delight of Cyr, Léveillé and Bouchard. Two top 20 finishes in the first four stages of the World Cup will secure the athletes their place in the Tour, but Nordiq Canada holds discretionary choices for the selection of the team.
“It’s time for us to participate,” Bouchard indicated. It is an excellent strategy to allow our athletes to compete with the best. »
“Adding Cyr is a step in the right direction. Nordiq Canada is proving that they have confidence in us. It would be fun to meet our selection criteria, but the discretionary picks represent a big open door.”
On the snow since Oct. 20 in Canmore, Katherine Stewart Jones has had a good summer of training. “It remains to be seen whether it will appear in the WC, but I can’t wait for it to start. I’m aiming for a top 20 at the start of the season, but a top 10 later in the year when I’m at my peak. I pushed the training volume up in September and October to be at my best after the holidays. »
Stewart Jones should also experience his first Tour de Ski if all goes as planned.