Historic finish unofficially secures Kershaw second spot in the Overall World Cup standings
FALUN, Swe. (ISN) —Canada’s Nordic Knights, Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw, became the first Canadian males to share a World Cup podium in cross-country skiing after winning the gold and bronze medals in Falun, Sweden.
The 23-year-old Harvey became the third Canadian male to win a World Cup cross-country-ski race after clocking a golden time of 8:16.8 in the men’s 3.3-kilometre skate-ski prologue race.
His first victory came on the same course where his legendary father, Pierre, blazed the trail to the podium for Canada’s Nordic skiers when he captured his first of three World Cup wins 25 years ago in 1987, and again in 1988. Pierre Harvey had a perfect viewpoint trackside to celebrate the historic moment with his son in the finish area on Friday.
“It is such a special day for me to get my first individual victory on the same course where my dad’s first win was in 1987,” said the younger Harvey. “When I found out I won, I was so pumped. I ran over and hugged my dad and Devon who was also right there. The wax techs were all there and the whole team was so excited. It is so special.”
The medal was the sixth of Alex Harvey’s three-year career, and third this season. The St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. native also won a silver in the 15-kilometre classic-ski race at the Tour de Ski in January, along with a bronze earlier this month in a skiathlon race in Lahti, Finland.
“I have had some great races this year, but also some real challenging one’s too,” said Harvey. “I always believed in myself and believed I could win.”
Harvey was joined on the podium by his World Championship-winning teammate, Devon Kershaw, who was in third spot at 8:19.9.
“To have Devon on the podium with me just made the day so special,” said Harvey, who moves to third in the World Cup Finals mini-tour standings. “We train together every day. We share rooms together on the road, and we are great friends. We are never satisfied and always want more. It is just really special.”
“To see Alex win finally means the world to me. He is the most confident athlete I have ever been around, and it is clear why. He is the real deal,” said Kershaw. “Alex winning today just made this a magical day all-around for our whole team.”
Overall World Cup leader, Dario Cologna of Switzerland, was second at 8:17.0.
The 29-year-old Kershaw’s bronze-medal finish all but officially secured him second spot in the overall World Cup standings, which will put him in the books as the most successful Canadian men’s cross-country skier in the history of the sport.
With two races still remaining, Kershaw has grabbed two gold and three bronze medals during his remarkable run this year. The two-time Olympian also finished fourth overall in the grueling Tour de Ski, solidifying his position as one of the world’s best all-around cross-country skiers.
“To be second in the overall is crazy awesome and very hard for me to process right now with two races still to go,” said Kershaw, who added that Canadian Ivan Babikov also won the final stage of the Tour de Ski in 2009. “I’m not sure how many skiers – cross-country or alpine – have ever been second overall in history.
“It was a goal of mine all year to finish in the top-three,” added Kershaw. “I wanted to be top-three in the Tour de Ski and finishing fourth still stings, but that motivated me so much for the rest of the year for the overall on the World Cup. I won’t believe it until I see it officially in writing – but to finish second – this is big time.”
Beckie Scott was the only other Canadian cross-country skier to finish in the top-three in the Overall World Cup standings when she also finished second in 2006.
Toronto’s 23-year-old Len Valjas also made some noise on Friday. The two-time World Cup medallist moved to third overall at the midway point of the World Cup Finals mini-tour with a 21st-place finish at 8:34.0. Calgary’s Kevin Sandau rounded out the Canadian men’s performance in 45th (8:55.8).
“We have the best team in men’s cross-country skiing hands down,” said Kershaw. “To be around these guys is so motivating and there is no doubt we have the best team.”
Friday’s double podium finish brings the Canadian squad’s combined medal total to 12 on the World Cup this year, surpassing the team’s collective goal of 10 set at the beginning of the season. Canada has placed a cross-country ski athlete in the top-five at nearly every World Cup stop this season.
Meanwhile, Daria Gaiazova led the Canadians into the top-30 in the women’s 2.5-kilometre prologue. The Banff, Alta. based Olympian clocked-in at 7:27.5 for 27th spot. Chandra Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., placed 45th at 7:43.1, while Alysson Marshall, of Salmon Arm, B.C., finished 49th (8:07.2).
Norway’s Marit Bjoergen won the women’s race with a time of 6:54.4. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla claimed the silver medal at 7:00.6, while Norway’s Marthe Kristoffersen punched the clock at 7:05.8 to grab the bronze.
The World Cup Finals continue on Saturday in Falun, Sweden with a 10- and 15-kilometre classic-ski mass start races.
Cross Country 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 51,000 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. 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.
Complete World Cup Results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&event_id=30415
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., CAN, 8:16.8; 2. Dario Cologna, SUI, 8:17.0; 3. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont,, CAN, 8:19.9; 4. Niklas Dryhaug, NOR, 8:23.7; 5. Anders Gloeersen, NOR, 8:24.4.
Other Canadian Results:
21. Len Valjas, Toronto, 8:34.0; 45. Kevin Sandau, Calgary, 8:55.8.
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Marit Bjoergen, NOR, 6:54.4; 2. Charlotte Kalla, SWE, 7:00.6; 3. Marthe Kristoffersen, NOR, 7:05.8; 4. Justyna Kowalczyk, POL, 7:08.6; 5. Kristin Stoermer Steira, NOR, 7:09.0.
27. Daria Gaiazova, Banff, Alta., 7:27.5; 45. Chandra Crawford, Canmore, Alta., 7:43.1; 49. Alysson Marshall, Salmon Arm, B.C., 8:07.2.