Graham Ritchie missed out on qualifying for the men’s cross country skiing sprint free semifinals by just 0.45 seconds.
The Parry Sound native ended up finishing 34th.
“Feels pretty unreal to actually be an Olympian now,” Ritchie posted on social media. “First race didn’t quite go as planned, missed out on the heats by a hair but gave it my all. Throwing down against the best in the world repping that maple leaf is something else, especially here. Huge thanks to everyone who has helped me get here. Looking forward to the next events.”
The 23-year-old Canadian Athletes Now Fund recipient is competing in his first Olympics. According to the fund’s website, it offers athletes up to $6,000 to help afford proper nutrition, better equipment, coaching, team fees, extra physiotherapy, and travel to training camps and competitions.
The current season has been one of the best in Ritchie’s short skiing career. Along with teammate Antoine Cyr, he finished a career-best 7th in the team sprint final at the 2021 Fédération International Ski Federation (FIS) Nordic World Ski Championships. At the same event, he just missed out on qualifying for the sprint finishing two seconds away from the last qualifying spot.
Ritchie is currently the 62nd ranked in his discipline of cross country skiing sprinter, according to the FIS, and the 12th best sprinter under 23-years-old.
He isn’t Parry Sound’s only athlete competing at the Olympics. Megan Oldham finished fourth in the inaugural women’s freeski big air event.