Sport Shorts: What's New in New Zealand?

Dominating on Fresh New Zealand Snow: Canada’s cross-country skiers are on the other side of the planet, kick-starting the road to 2010. The men’s and women’s teams are competing at the New Zealand Winter Games, part of their off-season training. And they’re probably having a bit of fun as well judging by the results.

Thus far, Canada has swept the podium in the men’s 15 km race. Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.) won the event, followed five seconds later by Ivan Babikov (Canmore, Alta.) and then by Alex Harvey (St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que.). Canadians took the top two spots in the women’s 10 km race. Canmore’s Sara Renner won the race, followed by teammate Brittany Webster, of Caledon, Ont. Drew Goldsack (Red Deer, Alta.) won the men’s skate-ski sprint and in second was Julien Nury (St-Nicolas, Que.). On the women’s side, the podium was all-Canadian. Perianne Jones (Almonte, Ont.), Shayla Swanson (Calgary) and Brittany Webster finished one-two-three in the event.

Other countries competing include Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan.

Snowboard World Cup This Week: New Zealand figures prominently these days. An official FIS World Cup of snowboard runs this week for the halfpipe competition. At the country’s Cardrona ski area, about 130 riders from more than 20 nations will compete. Canada is led by 2009 World Championship silver medallist Jeff Batchelor (Oakville, Ont.).

Canada Crowns Modern P Champs: Over the weekend, Port Coquitlam, B.C. hosted the national modern pentathlon championship. On the men’s side, there was no surprise as the best athlete rose to the top in the form of Joshua Riker-Fox. The Delacour, Alta. native won the senior men’s title after earlier in August placing a very strong 27th at the World Championships. On the women’s side, Toronto’s Donna Vakalis won the senior women’s title. That race didn’t feature Monica Pinette, two-time Olympian and 2007 Pan Am silver medallist, who has a broken toe.

Rowers Kick off World Championships: The 2009 World Rowing Championships are underway on Malta Lake in Poznan, Poland. Many rowers are familiar with this location, as Lake Malta has hosted many World Cup regattas. And next year will mark the third time this lake will have hosted the Canoe Sprint World Championships. After a few heats on the weekend, the real action for Canadian rowers heats up this week. That includes today, where the men’s eight won its heat to advance straight to the final.

Road to Redemption: The last time Canada’s men’s hockey team competed at an Olympic Winter Games, it finished in seventh place – a disappointment for the players and coaches. On home ice in February, a revamped team led by executive director Steve Yzerman (also a two-time Olympian and 2002 gold medallist) will seek redemption and a spot on the podium in Vancouver. They will face tough international competition with the likes of Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic and the United States. The road starts today, on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, as 46 Olympic hopefuls gather at the Calgary Saddledome for a four-day orientation camp.