Red Deer’s Drew Goldsack had the perfect start to his comeback season by winning gold in the men’s skate-ski sprint on Monday in New Zealand.
Goldsack, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, has been sidelined for more than a year with an ankle injury.
The 2006 Olympian, and another of Canada’s deep contingent of sprint skiers, fought his way through the head-to-head heats en route to the top step of the podium.
The heats consist of six athletes racing simultaneously, with the top-two athletes in each heat moving onto the next round.
“It was a great day down under for me,” said Goldsack. “This isn’t only my first week back racing, but it is the first time on snow. To start it off with a win is excellence, but I have a long, hard battle ahead of me to completely recover from the surgery and reach my goal of qualifying for the Olympics. Today’s race was a sign that I’m on track.”
Goldsack was joined on the men’s podium by 20-year-old Julien Nury, of St-Nicolas, Que., and Gaudenz Flury, of Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Perianne Jones stomped some authority in the women’s skate-ski sprint. The 24-year-old, of Almonte, Ont., set the pace winning the qualification round and each of one of her heats to claim the gold medal and second straight golden sweep for Canadian athletes in New Zealand.
The Canadian women swept the podium with Calgary’s Shayla Swanson in second spot, followed by Brittany Webster, of Caledon, Ont., in third.
Canada is amongst a handful of nations competing at the New Zealand Winter Games including Australia, Japan, Korea, Switzerland and New Zealand. The Games wrap up on Tuesday.
“The ski conditions have been great here in New Zealand, said Goldsack.
“This is an important summer training camp for us and has been outstanding so far. We have just under two weeks of training left here before returning home to Canada for our lead into the Olympic Games.”