NOVE MESTO, CZE—Canada’s Devon Kershaw had to dig a little deeper for a 12th-place finish on Saturday than maybe any of his three medal-winning performances over the last two weeks.
Executing a race strategy to fight for the bonus points up for grabs at four check points throughout the punishing 30-kilometre classic mass start race in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, the 29-year-old executed hisrace strategy to perfection while finishing 12th with a time of 1:14:03.6.
The two-time Olympian won two bonus sprints, and finished third in two others to rack up an additional 72 World Cup points, moving him into third in the overall standings.
“Justin and I talked about going for the points if I was near the front. I got serious points on the first two and decided to go for all of them,” said Kershaw, whose goal is to finish in the top-five of the Overall World Cup standings this year. “But you pay to play out here. I didn’t want to waste all my energy, but this is a heavy course with long climbs that makes you work.”
“The results definitely don’t look as good as the day went,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “The podium is pretty elusive. Getting the bonus points out there today was actually as good as finishing second.”
Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., also had a solid outing finishing in 16th spot with a time of 1:14:08.6. Toronto’s Len Valjas rounded out the Canadian men’s performances by finishing 52nd (1:19:35.5). Alex Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., was forced to pull out of the race on the third of six five-kilometrelaps after his back seized up.
Sweden’s Johan Olsson won the 30-kilometre trek with a time of 1:13:42.0. Switzerland’s Dario Cologna skied to the silver medal with a time of 1:13:43.5, while Russia’s Maxim Vylegzanin skied to the bronze at 1:13:58.0.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Perianne Jones continued her breakout season by matching her career-best distance race. One week removed from her 27th birthday, the Almonte, Ont. native clocked a 30th-place time of 43:02.7 in the women’s 15-kilometre classic-ski mass start race.
“It was another good day for Peri who is having a really solid season,” said Wadsworth, who added Jones grabbed her first career medal in the team sprint with Chandra Crawford last month in Milano. “She continues to have personal bests in distance and sprint races, is getting in the points, and having a great year.”
Norway’s Marit Bjoergen won the women’s race with a time of 39:20.3. Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk was second at 39:24.3, while Norway’s Therese Johaug rounded out the podium in third at 39:34.6.
The Canadian team will now return to Austria to recover after a packed lined-up of racing over the last two weeks.
CrossCountry Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 55,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Teck Resources Ltd., Canadian Pacific, and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at www.cccski.com