Canadian Julien Locke has career-best day at cross-country World Cup
Nelson, B.C., native finishes 15th in 1.2km sprint in Dresden, Germany
Julien Locke cranked out a career-best 15th-place finish at a World Cup cross-country skiing city sprint race in Dresden, Germany on Saturday.
The second-year member of the National Ski Team from Nelson, B.C., broke through with a solid performance in the unique sprint course laid out through the downtown streets of Dresden.
"I'm so happy to have my best World Cup finish here. I felt great today. I had lots of energy and good power in the body," said Locke. "I had fantastic support from the small team with us here today. We had excellent skis and everything we needed to perform."
The lone Canadian of the four to earn a spot into the round of 30 in the head-to-head heats for the skate-ski sprint race after qualifying in 16th place, the 24-year-old Locke didn't shy away from lining up against many World Cup heavyweights in the round of 30.
"The course was the fastest I've done in years. The snow was rock solid and icy in the qualifier and softened up for the heats," said Locke. "It was a great atmosphere on the course today. It's a neat venue with the blackened architecture across the Elbe River from the race. There was huge turnout of boisterous spectators spurring us on."
Locke has two top-20 finishes under his belt in his young career on the World Cup, with his best individual sprint finish being 20th in Quebec last year.
Italy's Federico Pellegrino won the 1.2-kilometre race with a time of one minute 52.77 seconds. Norway's Johannes Klaebo was 0.18 behind in second, while Lucas Chanavat of France skied to the bronze medal at 0.98 back.
Locke advanced as far as the quarter-finals with a time of 1:55.03.
Other Canadian results included: Bob Thompson (Thunder Bay, Ont.) in 50th; Dominique Moncion-Groulx (Gatineau, Que.) in 59th; and Quebec's Antoine Briand placed 60th.
On the women's side, Hanna Falk of Sweden made it into the final as one of two lucky losers, but she took control early and finished in 2 minutes, 11.02 seconds, beating compatriot Maja Dahlqvist by 0.23 seconds and Sophie Caldwell of the United States by 0.30.
Switzerland's Laurien Van Der Graaff was fourth, ahead of Swedes Anna Dyvik and Stina Nilsson.
It was Falk's first win since January 2010.