The Gee-Gees women’s hockey team has a world champion in their midst after Fannie Desforges skated her way to victory at the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship in Quebec City this past weekend.
Wearing her garnet hockey socks and with a Gee-Gee logo emblazoned on her helmet, Desforges posted the fastest time in Friday’s preliminary runs. True to the Gee-Gee namesake she burst out of the gate to begin Saturday’s final race, giving herself the all-important lead position, and skated to victory almost untouched on Saturday night in front of over 100 thousand spectators.
“Coming down the last jump, I thought she was right behind me,” said the high-energy Desforges, describing her thoughts as she crossed the finish line. “I didn’t know I was that far ahead. I was just focussed on staying on my feet.”
Desforges was at the event last year and finished fifth overall. She says that experience was crucial to topping the podium this time around, especially since mild weather caused some practice sessions to be cancelled.
“Last year I noticed that I needed to skate more, that you actually have to push and not just cruise down the track. And then the course this year was quicker, there was less technique and you needed more speed.”
The Fournier, Ontario native has earned the nickname Fearless Fannie, but she admits she was “a little nervous,” going into the final race, knowing who she was stacking up against. She beat out last year’s winner, Kyhala Salla of Finland, and fellow Canuck and experienced racer Marquise Brisebois.
Now Desforges is the one to beat, and she plans to continue to race. Currently, the Quebec City event is the only event on the four-city schedule which has a women’s competition. If that were to change, Desforges is eager to compete at the international events as well.
uOttawa’s Dominique Lefebvre also qualified for the championship races, finishing with a 1:09.44 best time on Friday, placing her in fourteenth position. Lefevbre fell in her quarterfinal heat and did not move on.
“I am very happy for Fannie, she put on quite a show”, said Gee-Gees women’s hockey head coach Yanick Evola, who is very supportive of his athletes participating in the extreme sport. “Fannie is an outstanding athlete and she has shown that she is very fast and above all very focussed. She has made us all proud, it’s not every day you can brag about being world champion…. But Fannie can now do that and savour her victory.”