December 7, 2013, LILLEHAMMER, Nor. (ISN) – Many of the world’s best cross-country skiers are pushing the pace while fighting for Olympic spots for their respective country’s, but Canada’s best on the skinny skis remain focused on the process with the ultimate goal of peaking in Sochi.
That was the case on Saturday in Lillehammer, Norway as Alex Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que.,led the Canucks with a 16th place finish after clocking a time of 35 minutes 50.2 on a punishing 15-kilometre Nordic track loaded with steep climbs and fast descents.
“This is heavy racing right now being an Olympic year. Many of the Norwegians, Swedes and Russians are all fighting for spots at the Games so are skiing extremely fast,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “Right now there is no Olympic pressure on us so we need to keep calm and stay focused on the process because you don’t want to be going this hard this early in the game.”
Norway’s Paul Golberg put it all out on the line to win the men’s classic-ski race with a time of 35:00.0. Alexey Poltoranin, of Kazakhstan, skied to the silver medal time at 35:14.2. Norway’s Didrik Toenseth stopped the clock at 35:15.5 to claim the bronze.
Battling the regular early-season jet lag and fatigue from high volume of training, Canada’s Nordic stars are slowly climbing their way back into the elite field after a slow start at the season-opener last week in Finland.
Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., placed 35th at 36:23.6; Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., finished 56th (37:03.7); and Jesse Cockney, of Canmore, Alta., was 68th (37:44.2).
“Obviously we are hoping for a bit better, but it is coming slowly,” added Wadsworth. “This is all normal where nobody is feeling very good coming off such a high volume of training. It is just the way it is and we have to be patient.”
No Canadian women suited up on Saturday. Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won the women’s 10-kilometre classic-ski race with a time of 25:59.4.
What is being regarded as one of the most talented men’s cross-country ski teams heading into an Olympics in Canada, the squad will hit the start line together on Sunday for the 4×10-kilometre relay in Norway.
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 58,000 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,. 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.
Complete Results: www.fis-ski.org
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Paul Golberg, NOR, 35:00.0; 2. Alexey Poltoranin, KAZ, 35:14.2; 3. Didrik Toenseth, NOR, 35:15.5; 4. Marcus Hellner, SWE, 35:20.2; 5. Johan Olsson, SWE, 35:21.4
16. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 35:50.2; 35. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 36:23.6; 56. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 37:03.7; 68. Jesse Cockney, Canmore, Alta., 37:44.2