This article was originally published on the Cross Country Ski Canada website.
Almonte's Perianne Jones has just hung up her competitive skis for good. Here she is competing in February at the FIS nordic world ski championships in Falun, Sweden. credit Nordic Focus.
A smiling and laughing Perianne Jones went out with a loud bang.
It didn’t matter that her focus wandered and that she finished fifth in the women’s senior 30-kilometre free-skate mass start race, a distance she rarely embraces. It was her final race, in her final Canadian cross-country ski championships, in the final meaningful competition of her extensive and successful career.
When she crossed the finish line out of the medals in Thunder Bay last Saturday, there were plenty of reasons for celebration.
First, Jones captured her second senior women’s overall title in four years. When she folded her results (one gold medal in the classic long sprint, three silver medals and one fifth place) into that of her teammates, it helped Nakkertok Nordic win its sixth consecutive club aggregate point championship and gave Ontario its first provincial banner since 2006.
Finally, sporting a fine medal collection and brimming with happiness, Jones told her teammates she was retiring from cross-country racing, after 14 years with the Canadian team, including the past 11 for the senior squad.
“Going into the season, I knew it (retirement) was a possibility,” said Jones, who had a rare season of good health and didn’t have to battle low iron, the effects of over-training or fatigue. “As the season progressed, I felt I was ready. There’s nothing in skiing I want to get away from. I wanted to move onto other things. I have no regrets.”
At 30, Jones reasoned it was time to pursue a university education, look at starting a family with her husband, Joel Jaques, who is a wax technician for the Canadian senior cross-country ski team, and give her body a break.
Perianne Jones sports a Canadian flag on her cheek during the women’s 4x5K cross-country relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. photo credit AP
“Age is definitely one of the reasons. I can’t do this forever. I’m going to school in the fall and would like to start a family. To get all that done, I have to stop skiing,” said Jones, who lives and trains in Canmore, Alta. “Plus the ski training was hard. I put my body through the ringer.
“I felt I gave skiing a good shot. I had some success and some challenges. It’s my decision.”
While Jones represented Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics and earned two World Cup team sprint bronze medals in 2013 and 2012, there was something missing that restricted her achieving greater results.
“I was never able to recover as quickly as the others on the team, whether it was after a hard week of training or racing. It would take a week (to recover),” she added. “By the end of my career, I figured it out. It wasn’t possible for me to race two races in a weekend and have success.”
Jones’s notable results list also includes three other top-10 results on the World Cup, an 11th in the team sprint at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and competing at four world senior and three world junior championships.
But, now, after years of following the plans of her coaches and parents, Jones and her husband are setting their own agenda. First on the list is a trip to Eastern Canada using a 32-year-old camper van they bought last month.
“It runs and I did buy a CAA membership, the best package,” she said with a laugh.
When they reach Ottawa, Jones hopes to be part of the Ottawa Race Weekend and run the Ottawa Marathon. She hopes to run the race with her father Brad, who’s aiming to start his 35th consecutive Ottawa Marathon on May 24.
“I’ve always wanted to run with him, but it hasn’t been in the cards. I need to start training. I’ve never done a marathon,” said Jones, whose longest race is 10 kilometres on the road or 30 kilometres on the snow.
Ah, the training. It never ends, but usually leads somewhere good.