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Coach Wadsworth guides Canadian squad to incredible season with 14 podium finishes

FALUN, Swe. (ISN) —Devon Kershaw put a silver lining on a historic season where he became the first Canadian male cross-country skier to finish second overall on theWorld Cup Sunday afternoon in Falun, Sweden.

Starting time-behind-the-leader in the 15-kilometre skate-skiing pursuit race based on the opening three starts of the World Cup Finals, the 29-year-old Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., officially confirmed hishistoric second-place standing on the season, and the World Cup Finals, after clocking a four-race combined time of 1:32:56.9.

“I crossed the line and thought ‘Thank God it is done,’ but I was also so proud right away of our entire team,” said Kershaw. “This last month I had a lot of nervous energy, but finishing second at the World Cup Finals was another huge goal this year. That is about as good as it gets.”

Canada’s Nordic Knights combined to win five medals in the final four races this year.

Kershaw finished less than 30 seconds behind Overall World Cup winner, Dario Cologna of Switzerland, who capped off one of the most remarkable seasons in cross-country skiing history with a winning time of 1:32:33.1. Norway’s Niklas Dyrhaug was third at 1:33:13.6.

“I think it was really cool that Dario and I finished first and second on the Overall and at the World Cup Finals as well,” said Kershaw. “He had an amazing year, but I think it was a great reflection of how hard we both worked each race this year.”

Kershaw’s silver on Sunday completed the two-time Olympian’s 2012 medal collection. The sixth medal of the season, Kershaw came into Sunday’s finale with two gold and three bronze medals, bringing his career total to 15.

“To be second in the overall is crazy awesome and I’m just so proud and happy of what we accomplished as an entire team,” said Kershaw. “I’m not sure how many skiers – cross-country or alpine – have ever been second overall in history. But it is not perfection. My dream is to have one Canadian men’s skier on the Olympic podium. I don’t care who it is. I just want it to happen.

“I know I have to take one month off, but I’m so motivated to get training again and get going again next year to keep building on this.”

While Kershaw was the one standing on the podiumSunday, Alex Harvey of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., clocked the second-fastest time of the day at 39:03.1 to finish in sixth spot in the World Cup Finals mini-tour with a time of 1:33:15.5. Harvey had his best-ever overall World Cup finish in sixth spot at just 23 years of age.

Another 23-year-old Canuck, Toronto’s Len Valjas, completed a stellar month with three World Cup podiums, two coming in the four races at the Finals in Sweden, by crossing the finish line in 14th at 1:34:39.6.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen won the women’s mini-tour with a time of 1:09:50.1 Chandra Crawford, of Banff, Alta., finished 31st at 1:15:40.1, while Daria Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., placed 41st (1:17:27.5).

Kershaw, who will now be recognized as the most successful men’s skier in the history of the national program, and his World Cup comrades chalked up a list of accomplishments as long as their journey around the world this year including:

– Canadian Team finished sixth as a nation on the World Cup;

– Devon Kershaw becoming the first Canadian male to finish second in the overall World Cup standings(two gold, on silver and three bronze medals);

– Devon Kershaw finished second in the overall World Cup distance race standings;

– Alex Harvey won his first World Cup race to go along with a silver and bronze to place sixth overall;

– Harvey and Kershaw became the first Canadian men to share a World Cup podium when they placed first and third in the prologue earlier this week;

– Lenny Valjas won his first three career medals – one silver and two bronze;

– Lenny Valjas finishedthird in the World Cup Finals sprint mini-tour;

– Chandra Crawford found her way back to the international podium with a silver and bronze medal;

– Crawford teamed up with Perianne Jones to win a bronze in a World Cup team sprint race.

“What is going on right now in our program, and here in Sweden, is really crazy. It is unreal,” said Canadian head coach, Justin Wadsworth. “We came into these Finals having accomplished most of our goals in Norway earlier this month so we were very relaxed. This week was the icing on the cake.”

Kershaw credited the Team’s remarkable run to Wadsworth’s guidance.

“I know I talk so much about how amazing Justin has been for us, but I can’t say it enough,” said Kershaw. “It is this simple. When you have the best leader in the world working for you, incredible things will happen. We proved that this year.”

In just his second year as coach of the Canadiantroops, Wadsworth is no stranger to shaping great Canadian results. The husband to Beckie Scott, Wadsworth had a positive influence on the historic 2006 season when the two-time Olympic medallist led Canada to a best-ever 15 World Cup and two Olympic medals. Scott racked up nine World Cup medals, including four victories, en route to finishing second in the women’s Overall World Cup standings.

Canada’s World Cup athletes will now travel to Quebec City for the Haywood Ski Nationals. The squad will arrive at Quebec City International Airport, Monday, March 19 at 3:53 p.m. EDT on Air Canada Flight 8718.

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 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

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