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Canucks show stuff at worlds: Canadian firefighters bring home hardware from U.S-held championships

There were fewer Canadian competitors than usual at the 2007 Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge but several of those who made the trek to Las Vegas in November came home world champions and a slew of others clocked top-10 finishes.

January 16, 2008
By Laura King

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PHOTO COURTESY WOLFVILLE
FIRE DEPARTMENT
Kathy Babcooke of the Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department in Nova Scotia claimed the bronze medal at the 2007 world combat challenge in Las Vegas in November.

There were fewer Canadian competitors than usual at the 2007 Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge but several of those who made the trek to Las Vegas in November came home world champions and a slew of others clocked top-10 finishes. 

Mike Gilbert of St. Catharines Fire Rescue, a perennial Canadian competitor, claimed the over-40 category while Jimmy Kolar from the Sudbury Fire Department took the over-45 title. In addition, Gilbert and Kolar teamed up and placed first in the over-40 tandem championship.  
 

Equally impressive was the performance of
Newfoundland’s Jack Hickey, who also brought home two world championship titles, in the over-50 and the chiefs categories. Hickey is the fire chief at the St. John’s Regional Fire Department.  

Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the Canadian women’s team of Jacqueline Rasenberg and Denise Townshend, both veteran competitors, won the 2007 female tandem championship. In addition, Rasenberg, of the Vaughan Fire Department in
Ontario, came second in the women’s individual competition while Kathy Babcooke of the Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department in Nova Scotia claimed the bronze.  

For Babcooke, the third-place finish was her best individual result at worlds in five trips. Babcooke says that although there were fewer Canadian competitors overall at the championships this year more women are competing. 
 

“It’s really nice to see that it’s opening up more. It makes the competition a lot harder but that’s what you want,” she said. 
 

In the tandem, Halifax’s Sherry Brown and Liane Tessier of Mahone Bay, N.S., teamed up and took the bronze medal while Andrea Speranza and Julie Read, both of Halifax, came fifth followed by Babcooke and teammate Melanie Edwards in sixth. 
 

“Having us compete at this level and doing as well as we did kind of substantiates our role as women in the fire service,” Tessier told the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. 
 

In the co-ed tandem, Tanya Phillips of the Vaughan Fire Department and Steve McCulloch of the Guelph Fire Department teamed up to earn the bronze while Rob Hebb and Adam MacNeil of Halifax came 13th in the male tandem event. (Phillips and former teammate Angie Gauthier hold the world record in the female tandem event from their 2006 run of
4:22:35.)  

Mike Triff, who won the Canadian Scott FireFit Championships in Halifax in August with an impressive run of 1:20:05, was counting on a top-five finish for his team in Vegas but the heat, differences in the course and other challenges left the Maritimers a disappointing, albeit impressive, ninth in the team event.  
 

“I don’t think we adjusted very well to the weather,” Triff said. “It was dry and hot and the course had enough differences that our lack of training on the course came into play. We were definitely aiming for top five.” 
 

Competitors were unable to practice on the course because it was taken down each night and there was no time available for training. The numbers of stairs on the tower is different than on the Canadian course, as is the width and pitch of the stairs. In addition, there’s an extra pylon on the course and the force machine is different. 
 

Triff’s team of Andrew Foote, Rob Hebb, Adam MacNeil and Mike Sears ran the fastest relay in the first round of 64 teams but the bluenosers were eliminated in the next round because of a penalty for an uncontrolled or illegal handoff. 
 

Next year, Triff says, the team will go to Vegas a few days earlier to acclimatize to the dry heat. 
 

“Just the heat alone . . . the temperatures were in the 80s. We were all having a hard time with that,” he said.  
 

Hilary McRoberts, whose B.C.-based company, FireFit, administers the Scott FireFit Championships, said Canadian competitors have always been the cream of the crop at the world competition. 
 

“They take this event super seriously and are breaking records all the time.” 
 

Indeed, Gilbert holds the world record in the over-40 category for his time of 1:26:65 in 2005, Hickey’s world record in the over-50 group of
1:40:52 in 2006 still stands and Rasenberg’s 2003 team holds the female relay record of 1:47:12.  
 

WORLD CHAMPIONS
  

World challenge – over 40

Mike Gilbert, St. Catharines Fire Rescue 1:31:49   

World challenge – over 45

Jimmy Kolar, Sudbury Fire Department 1:45:89  

World challenge – over 50 and chiefs
 
Jack Hickey, St. John’s Fire Department 1:43:06  

World challenge – female tandem 
Jacqueline Rasenberg, Vaughan
Fire Department,
and Denise Townshend (Canadian Forces Fire Marshal)
2:11:13
 

World challenge  – over 40 tandem

Mike Gilbert (St. Catharines Fire Rescue)
and Jimmy Kolar (
Sudbury Fire Deparement)
1:22:31

RESULTS 
 

Female tandem  
1. Jacqueline Rasenberg, Vaughan
Fire Department,
and Denise Townshend, Canadian Forces Fire
Marshal 2:11:13

3. Halifax Female Team 2, Sherry Brown, Halifax
,
and Liane Tessier,
Mahone Bay, N.S. 2:24:19
5.
5. Andrea Speranza and Julie Read,
Halifax Team 1 2:26:13
6.
6. Melanie Edwards and Kathy Babcooke, Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department 2:27:52
 

Co-ed tandem
  
3. Tanya Phillips, Vaughan Fire Department, Steve McCulloch, Guelph
Fire Department 1:40:93
6. Denise Townshend and Johnathan Welsh (Canadian Forces Fire Marshal) 1:50:41
 

Male tandem
   
13. Rob Hebb and Adam MacNeil, Halifax Team 1 1:31:37
 
14. Joe Triff and Mike Sears, Halifax Team 1 1:36:37
 

Over-40 tandem
  
1. Jimmy Kolar, Sudbury Fire Department, and Mike Gilbert, St. Catharines Fire Rescue 1:22:31  
 

Relays – women
  
Andrea Speranza, Leanne Tessier, Julie Read and Sherry Brown, Halifax, made it to the consolation round of four 
 

Relays – men
  
Sherbrooke, Que., DIFCO team made it to consolation round in a field of 64 teams 
 

World Challenge Finals  – team
   
8. Delta, B.C., Men in Black 4:58:38
9. Halifax Fire Team 1 – Joe Triff, Andrew Foote, Rob Hebb, Adam MacNeil, Mike Sears 5:03:84
 

World challenge finals – individual
   
4. Darren Hillman, Windsor
Fire & Rescue 1:31.32
5. Mike Gilbert, St.
Catharines Fire Rescue 1:31:49
15. Colin Macaulay, Vancouver
Fire Department, 1:35:47
18. Steve McCulloch, Guelph
Fire Department 1:35:74
23. Ryan Richards, Delta, B.C. Fire Department 1:36:49
35. Jamie McGarva, Delta, B.C. Fire Department 1:39:70
42. Andrew Foote, Halifax Fire Team 1 1:41:15

43. Mike Sears, Halifax Fire Team 1 1:41:29

44. Adam MacNeil, Halifax Fire Team 1 1:41:40

46. Rob Hebb, Hire Fire Team 1 1:42:12

47. Mark Millward, Delta, B.C. Fire Department 1:42:19
49. Joe Triff, Halifax Fire Team 1 1:42:38

52. Jack Hickey, St. John’s
Regional Fire Department 1:43:06
57. Jimmy Kolar, Sudbury
Fire Department 1:45:89
58. Eric Pichette, Sudbury
Fire Department 1:46:66
65. Ron Arsenault, Moncton, N.B. 1:48:11

86. Cyril Fraser, Halifax
Fire Team 2 1:56:73
99. Yoland Deschenes, Canadian Forces Fire Marshal 2:06.97 
120. Rob McNamara, Toronto Fire Service – Paul Davis System 2:22.29 124. Murray McCartney, Canadian Forces Fire Marshal 2  2:40:78 
 

World challenge finals – over 40
   
1. Mike Gilbert, St.
Catharines Fire Rescue 1:31.49 
6. Mark Millward, Delta, B.C., Fire Department 1:42:19 
 
19. Jacqueline Rasenburg, Vaughan
Fire Department 2:37:95
20. Kathy Babcooke, Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department 2:40:06 
 

World challenge finals – over 45
  
1. Jimmy Kolar, Sudbury
Fire Department, 1:45:89
2. Ron Arsenault, Moncton
Fire Department 1:48:11
5. Yoland Deschenes, Canadian Forces Fire Marshal 2:06.97 
 

World challenge finals – over 50
  
1. Jack Hickey, St. John’s
Regional Fire Department 1:43:06
2. Cyril Fraser, Halifax
Fire Team 2 1:56:73
8. Rob McNamara, Toronto Fire Service 2:22;29 
 

World challenge finals – 55-plus
  
7. Murray McCartney, Canadian Forces Fire Marshal 2, 2:40:78 
 

World challenge final – chiefs
  
1. Jack Hickey, St. John’s Regional Fire Department 1:43:06 
 

World challenge final – female
   
2. Jacqueline Rasenberg, Vaughan
Fire Department 2:37:95
3. Kathy Babcooke, Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department 2:40:06
4. Tanya Phillips, Mississauga
Fire & Emergency Services 2:44:74
6. Vanessa Moores, St. John’s
Regional Fire Department 2:50:35
7. Danielle Comolli, Toronto Fire Services 2:52:97 
 

Canadian regional events in the Scott FireFit Challenge start in May in
Kamloops. For the complete schedule, visit www.firefit.com.  

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