KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Canadian cross-country skiers Perianne Jones and Daria Gaiazova have both won sprint medals with teammate Chandra Crawford over the last two years.
On Sunday, Jones and Gaiazova showed that they can also reach the podium together.
Jones, from Almonte, Ont., and Gaiazova, from Banff, Alta., won their first medal as a duo by taking bronze in the 6×1.25-kilometre World Cup classic-style race with a time of 17 minutes 12.53 seconds.
The Russian team of Julia Ivanova and Natalia Matveeva edged the Canadians in a photo finish in 17:12.47, while the Finnish pair of Mona-Lisa Malvalehto and Anne Kylloenen won gold in 17:06.9.
While they nearly won silver, the Canadians were hard-pressed to hold off a charge from the Norway team of Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen and Celine Brun-Lie.
“I was coming down the finish with the Norwegian girl and I remember thinking to myself three weeks ago I was fourth — do not be fourth again,” Gaiazova said. “So I went like hell and fought for the podium.”
The Norwegians finished just over a second back.
Gaiazova said the result lets the team know that everyone has the ability to win medals.
“We have to remember this is just another World Cup, but at the same time it is really good to know over the next year that we can and did (win a) medal on the Olympic course,” she said. “That does give us confidence for sure.”
Coach Justin Wadsworth was impressed with their finish.
“The girls both skied an awesome final leg,” he said. “They really dug deep and hammered it.”
The medal guarantees that each of Canada’s seven men’s and women’s skiers are all in the prestigious red group with the top-30 skiers in the overall rankings on the World Cup.
“One of our goals as a team was to get every national team member in the red group, and we are there now,” Wadsworth said. “That is a huge accomplishment for our program to have every athlete in that group and we are very proud of that.”
In the men’s team sprint, Russia’s Dmitry Japarov and Maxim Vylegzhanin won gold. They dominated the 6×1.8 kilometre classic-style race from the start and finished in 24:12.38.
Sweden’s Teodor Petersen and Emil Joensson were second and Axel Teichmann and Tobias Angerer of Germany were third.
Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., and Toronto’s Len Valjas did not qualify for the final. The next World Cup meet is Feb. 16-17 in Davos, Switzerland.
With files from The Associated Press.