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Whistler Nordics puts up solid results at nationals

Murdoch, Peiffer hit the podium

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Whistler Nordics racer Michael Murdoch had a solid showing at the recent Haywood Nationals in Thunder Bay, Ont., coming home with two medals.

"It was definitely a great week for me," he said.

Murdoch claimed silver in the junior boys' 10-kilometre interval race and third in the junior boys' interval and pursuit combined race. He also narrowly missed out on a medal in the 1.2-km sprint, placing fourth despite favouring longer distances.

"That I came up on top in the races that I haven't necessarily been doing as well in just shows me that I can compete with the faster guys," he said. "There are huge categories out there and it was the highest competition level I was racing this year.

"Everybody comes from all over Canada and it's nice to see all the easterners out there, as well as the westerners."

Murdoch said the atmosphere at nationals helps him find an extra level and pushes him to be better.

"Having everybody around you, pushing each other, always forces you to want that podium spot so bad," he said. "Having the opportunity to stand on that podium and wear that medal feels amazing."

However, in the 15-km classic mass start, he ended up in seventh despite it being his preferred event.

"It's usually my best event and I didn't really perform," he said. "It's definitely a disappointment having that as my last race of the season. But stuff happened. I can bounce back from that and use it as a motivation booster for next year."

The main hindrance, Murdoch explained, was his ski choice. The Lappe Nordic Centre offered drier, more hard-packed snow than B.C. and he believes he should have countered with a stiff ski instead of the softer set-up he selected.

"I scraped off all my wax using the soft ski, so in the long run, I got really tired trying to keep up with the lead pack," he said.

Also starring at the Haywood Nationals was Benita Peiffer in the junior girls' event. She placed second in the 10-km pursuit, as well as second in the pursuit and interval combined. She also took fifth in both the 10-km interval race and the 7.5-km mass start, and seventh in the 1.2-km sprint.

Joe Davies, competing in the junior boys event with Murdoch, narrowly missed the podium, taking fourth in both the mass start and pursuit, sixth in the pursuit and interval combined, and seventh in the pursuit. Mila Wittenberg also pulled off top-10 finishes in the junior girls' bracket, taking eighth in the pursuit and ninth in the pursuit and interval combined.

As well, Marlie Molinaro posted a top finish of 14th in the juvenile girls interval race, while French skier Lucie Colin, competing with the club this year, took a top finish of 15th in the junior women's sprint.

The five club stalwarts placed well in the year-of-birth aggregate column, with Davies (2001) and Peiffer (2000) both taking second, Murdoch (2000) and Molinaro (2003) taking third and Wittenberg (2001) taking fourth, respectively.

"Our club is definitely not one you can look down on just because we have small numbers," Murdoch said.

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