Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey and Ivan Babikov Climb into Top-25 in World Cup Pursuit

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December 2, 2012, KUUSAMO, Fin. (ISN) — Canada’s Devon Kershaw clocked the 16th fastest time in a World Cup pursuit race to finish in 22nd on Sunday in Kuusamo, Finland.

Building momentum as Canada readies to host back-to-back World Cup races in Quebec City and Canmore, Alta., the-29-year-old Kershaw battled through extreme cold conditions in Finland to clock a 15-kilometre time of 41:24.2 in the classic-ski race, and total pursuit time of 43:17.9. Athletes start time-behind the cumulative leaders after the first two races of the week.

Starting just under 90 seconds behind the leader, the 24-year-old Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., looped the 2.5-kilometre track six times to finish in 23rd overall at 43:18.8. Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., rounded out the Canadian contingent in the top-30, grabbing 25th place in a solid start to the World Cup season. Babikov, 32, clocked a pursuit time of 43:31.7.

“The pack split into two big groups today and the gap was quite big that the guys couldn’t do much,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “Alex wanted a little more, but had to do a lot of his work on his own.

“We did have three guys in the top-25. Ivan is scoring points in every race, which shows the good, solid work he has put in. I think the guys have the base fitness that just needs some fine-tuning. Quebec may be exactly what they need. There will be a lot of energy there and everyone is excited to get home and get racing.”

Norway’s Petter Northug won the pursuit with a time of 41:38.3. Maxim Vylegzhanin finished second at 41:39.7, while Alexey Poltornanin, of Kazakhstan, skied to the bronze medal with a time of 41:41.7.

Calgary’s Kevin Sandau was the only other Canadian male to suit up on Sunday, and finished 63rd at 45:46.7.

Conserving energy for the Canadian World Cup sprint races, Chandra Crawford, Daria Gaiazova and Perianne Joneswere all on the sidelines leaving Alysson Marshall, of Salmon Arm, B.C. as the lone Canuck on the start line. Marshall, however, pulled out midway through the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit race.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen was the top woman with a time of 31:19.4.

The Canadian team will hold a media availability upon arriving at the airport in Quebec City on Monday, December 3 on Air Canada Flight #8918 at 3:27 p.m. EST

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 Canadiansparticipating 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, AltaGas, Statoil and Canadian Pacific – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2ten, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic,Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at www.cccski.com.

Complete Results:

http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&;event_id=31847

Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:

1. Petter Northug, NOR, 41:38.3; 2. Maxim Vylegzhanin, RUS, 41:39.7; 3. Alexey Poltoranin, KAZ, 41:41.7; 4. Dario Cologna, SUI, 41:46.1; 5. IIia Chernousov, RUS, 41:59.4

Canadian Results:

22. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 43:17.9; 23 Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 43:18.8; 25. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 43:31.7; 63. Kevin Sandau, Calgary, 45:46.7.

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