Ivan Babikov leads Canadians into top-20 at Tour de Ski

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Cross Country skiing Canada

by Chris Dornan

January 1, 2014, LENZERHEIDE, Sui. (ISN) – Ivan Babikov bolted his way up the leaderboard after finishing 19th in the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on Wednesday.

Starting in 75th position after the first three short-distance races, the 33-year-old distance specialist hunted down the field to finish a 15-kilometre mass start classic ski race with a time of 34:46.1.

Tour leader heading into the third stage, Alex Harvey of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. native, finished 40th at 35:13.6, while Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was 47th (35:26.4).

“That was a great day for Ivan (who has been waiting for a longer distance race),” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “It is not good to make excuses, but Alex and Devon just didn’t feel like the skis were good today. Their shape hasn’t gone anywhere and the guys are feeling good.”

Alexey Poltoranin, of Kazakhstan, took advantage of the ideal conditions to clock a winning time of 34:28.1. Germany’s Hannes Dotzler was second at 34:28.7, while Russia’s Stanislav Volzhentsev skied to the bronze medal step of the podium at 34:29.1.

Canada’s 25-year-old Harvey, who won the opening prologue race in Oberhof, Germany, and finished second yesterday in a skate sprint race, dropped to third place in the overall standings as the Tour moves to a 35-kilometre point-to-point skate-ski race over the mountain pass from Cortina to Toblach, Italy.

“Sprint racing is pretty tough on the body and maybe moreso than distance racing,” said Wadsworth. “Having to get ready every 15-20 minutes and having to ski fast can take its toll mentally and physically. May have seen the affects a bit on the leaders today, but I think the Tour to come together again in Toblach.”

Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen won the women’s 10-kilometre classic-ski mass start on Wednesday with a time of 26:27.4. Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt posted the second-fastest time at 26:27.8, while Norway’s Therese Johaug rounded out the women’s podium in third spot at 26:28.5.

Daria Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., was the lone Canadian to start and placed 59th (29:37.6). Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., did not start.

Modeled after the Tour de France in cycling, the nine-day Tour de Ski wraps up in Val di Fiemme, Italy on January 5. One of the featured events on the Nordic calendar tests some of the most physically and mentally fit athletes in the world in seven punishing races at four different venues in three countries to determine the king and queen of cross-country skiing.

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: http://www.fis-ski.com/cross-country/

Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:

1. Alexey Poltoranin, KAZ, 34:28.1; 2. Hannes Dotzler, GER, 34:28.7; 3. Stanislav Volzhentsev, RUS, 34:29.1; 4. Thomas Bing, GER, 34:29.2; 5. Daniel Richardson, SWE, 34:32.1.

Canadian Results:

19. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 34:46.1; 40. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 35:13.6; 47. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 35:26.4

Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:

1. Kerttu Niskanen, FIN, 26:27.4; 2. Astrid Uhrenholdt, NOR, 26:27.8; 3. Therese Johaug, NOR, 26:28.5; 4. Heidi Weng, NOR, 26:29.3; 5. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, FIN, 26:29.9.

Canadian Results:

59. Daria Gaiazova, Banff, Alta., 29:37.6

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