Vernon’s Hannah Mehain competes in the five-kilometre classic race at the World Junior Women’s Cross Country Ski Championships in Goms, Switzerland. (Photo Submitted)

Vernon’s Hannah Mehain competes in the five-kilometre classic race at the World Junior Women’s Cross Country Ski Championships in Goms, Switzerland. (Photo Submitted)

Mehain high on Swiss worlds

Vernon’s Hannah Mehain competed in the World Junior Women’s Cross Country Ski Championships

Vernon’s Hannah Mehain represented Canada well at the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships last week in Goms, Switzerland.

Mehain, 19, competed in four events and finished 29th overall in 1.2-kilometre ladies sprint free event, 37th in the skiathlon, 45th in the five-k individual classic and 15th in the four-skier relay event.

The opening sprint turned out to be Mehain’s most successful race. She qualified 27th out of 79 competitors. Only the top-30 moved on to the heats.

“I was happy to have made it to the heats for the first time at an international competition,” said Mehain. “The uphills and downhills on the sprint course were very challenging and technical. The day before I skied the downhill over and over until I was confident with my line.”

During the quarterfinal, Mehain was on the outside and got slightly behind midway up the first climb and couldn’t close the gap. She ended up 29th, the top Canadian Junior Women for that day.

“It was very motivating to be racing in the heats with the best juniors in the world and I realized just how fast I need to be in order to be competitive with the top.”

She was 45th out of 83 athletes in the classic race, the second Canadian woman behind Natalie Hynes of Whitehorse, who was 36th.

“I had a great first half. I could hear the traditional Swiss cowbells cheering me on as I raced. Although I lost my focus in the second half, I was still satisfied with my race.”

The third race was the 10-k skiathlon, where you had to ski the first 5 km Classic and then switch skis and poles in a transition area and skate the last 5 km. This was Mehain’s first mass start race at World Juniors. The competition was fierce with 65 competitors starting all at once.

“I focused on staying calm and clean in the start. I wanted to pace the beginning so I could push in the last lap. The course was very challenging, looping back into the stadium four times and doing the two very long sprint course hills each loop. For me, it was a success. I didn’t fall or break a pole and I even had to dodge a fall in front of me. My skis were fast and my pacing was good.”

Mehain was 37th, the second Canadian Junior behind Natalie Hynes who was 24th.

The relays had team member ski 3.3 k and Mehain was the first to go for the classic leg, followed by Hynes, (classic), Annika Richardson of Thunder Bay (skate), and Alexandra Racine of Mont Orford, Que. (skate).

“I raced my heart out in the relay,” said Mehain. “I had an excellent start and was able to get into fourth position by the end of the first long climb. I maintained sixth position until about three quarters into the race where I could feel the lactate building up. I struggled to keep going as fast as I could up the long second last climb. We were in 10th spot when I tagged Natalie. The rest of the team gave a solid effort and we finished 14th.

“While flying home, I could feel every muscle in my body ache. I knew that I had given it my all, not only in the relay, but in all of the races at World Juniors. For me, that is a very satisfying feeling.”

Hannah gave major props to Cross Country BC, Cross Country Canada Women’s Committee and Jess4Kids, while also giving kudos to sponsors Fischer, Swix, Julbo, Nordic Ski Grinds and Stussi Sports. She also gave huge credit to her parents, her first Sovereign coach Darren Derochie and her current coach Adam Elliot.