December 29, 2012, OBERHOF, Ger. (ISN) – Four of Canada’s top cross-country ski athletes are set to hit the start line for their annual nine-day journey for gold through Europe while taking on the best Nordic athletes on the planet in the seventh edition of the epic Tour de Ski.
Canada’s Ivan Babikov, Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw will lead Tour rookie, Len Valjas, into the spotlight when the world’s best all-round cross-country ski athletes kick off the ultimate grind in high-performance sport in Oberhof, Germany on December 29.
Modeled after the Tour de France in cycling, one of the featured events on the Nordic calendar will test some of the most physically and mentally fit athletes in the world in seven punishing races at five different venues in three countries to determine the king and queen of cross-country skiing.
Healthy, fit and hungry for the podium, Canada’s quadruple threat on the Tour de Ski are focused on fighting for the podium at each stage while contending for spots in the top-10 in the overall Tour. Canada’s Devon Kershaw narrowly missed the podium in last year’s overall Tour standings, finishing fourth. Alex Harvey, who won a silver medal at the penultimate stage one year ago in Val di Fiemme, Italy, placed 12th overall. The relentless Babikov has also had success in the world-unique event, having won the final stage four years ago – a punishing climb up Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
Manufacturing a well-rounded attack with the ability to medal on anygiven day, Cross Country Canada will pull out two secret weapons in its continued goal to lead the world in athlete preparation.
A key to success on the Tour is recovery, which Canada excels at as a team. For the third straight year, the Canucks have rented a Tour bus where athletes are able to relax, stretch, eat, receive massage therapy and sleep in beds without distraction while travelling between venues, providing the “rock star” feeling in hopes of gaining an edge on the competition.
Cross Country Canada has also assembled one of the most experienced and closely-knit wax teams on the World Cup circuit with six of the top techs on the planet focused on each of the three Canadians. With no margin for error allowed on ski preparation if you want to contend for the overall Tour lead, the Canadians will have the best athlete-to-wax tech ratio for each Tour stage.
Who: Ivan Babikov (Canmore, Alta.) – Two-Time Olympian, World Cup Champion (2009 Tour)
Alex Harvey (St.-Ferreol, Qué.) – World Champion, Four-Time World Cup Medallist
Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.) – World Champion, World Cup Champion, 4th in 2012 Tour
Len Valjas (Toronto) – Three-Time World Cup Medallist
Justin Wadsworth – Head Coach
When: December 29, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Daily Media Interviews/
Teleconference Info: All athlete interviews will be conducted through daily media teleconferences
North American Toll-Free: 1-866-318-7691
Participant Code: 3324146
Calls Each Race Day: December 29-30; January 1; 3-6
December 29 and 30: 12 noon EST
January 1: 2 p.m. EST
January 3: 12 noon EST
January 4: 2 p.m. EST
January 5 and 6: 12 noon EST
December 29 – Oberhof, Germany
Men’s 4 km Skate-Ski
December 3 – Oberhof, Gerlmany
Men’s 15 km Classic-Ski
January 1 – Val Müstair, Switzerland
Men’s 1.4 km Skate-Ski Sprint
January 3 – Cortina-Toblach, Italy
Men’s 35 km – Skate-Ski
January 4 – Toblach, Italy
Men’s 5 km Classic-Ski
January 5 – Val di Fiemme, Italy
Men’s 15 km Classic-Ski Mass Start
January 6 – Val di Fiemme, Italy
Men’s 9 km Skate-Ski Final Climb