Len Valjas Bounces Back Skiing into Top-15 at Cross Country Skiing

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(ISN) – DAVOS, Sui.—Len Valjas is just happy to feel like his old self again.

The 26-year-old Toronto native had his best race in more than one year, finishing 13th in the men’s skate-sprint race in Davos, Switzerland on Sunday.

“Today was exactly the day I needed,” said Valjas. “It’s been a long time since I’ve made the heats and it has worn me down. I can’t tell you how happy I am to make it today, and a result that I am happy with.”

The multiple World Cup medallist in sprint and distance races has battled knee injuries over the last year that has prevented him from making any charge to the international podium. But on Sunday in Davos, everything changed and the lanky Canuck was back in the mix.

Qualifying for the round of 30 head-to-head heats with the 10th fastest time, Valjas was drawn into a quick quarterfinal against the top qualifier Federico Pellegrino. The 2014 Olympian skied in the middle of the pack as the skiers went out on the first hill. Dropping to fifth place as the pack jockeyed itself for the final charge into the stadium, the towering Valjas hammered the pace to make his move around the final corner, but came up short finishing third in his heat. Only the top-two athletes move on to the next round, along with the next two fastest times.

“This course suits my size and skiing so I was able to use my size and move fast,” added Valjas. “Next weekend we have the same race, and I like look forward to learning from today and trying to ski even better!”

The Norwegians swept both the men’s and women’s podiums. Finn Haagen Krogh won the men’s sprint. Anders Gloeersen was second while Eirik Brandsdal hung on for the bronze medal.

The Norwegian dominance continued into the women’s race with Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg finishing on top of the podium. Maiken Caspersen Falla skied to the silver medal, while Celine Brun-Lie completed the sweep in third.

No other Canadians qualified for the heats. Jesse Cockney, of Canmore, Alta., finished just outside the top-30 in 37th spot; Alex Harvey (St. Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que.) had nothing left in the legs after a difficult 15-kilometre race yesterday and placed 45th, while Devon Kershaw was 59th. Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., was the only Canadian woman to suit up on Sunday and qualified in 40th.

The Canadian squad will remain in Davos for the final two World Cup races before the holiday break next weekend.

CCC 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 60,000 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, Mackenzie Investments and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us at www.cccski.com.

Complete Results: www.fis-ski.com
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Finn Haagen Krogh, NOR; 2. Anders Gloeersen, NOR; 3. Eirik Brandsdal, Nor; 4. Alexey Petukhov, RUS; 5. Calle Halfvarsson, SWE
Canadian Results:
13. Len Valjas, Toronto; 37. Jesse Cockney, Canmore, Alta.; 45. Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que.; 59. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont.

Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR; 2. Maiken Caspersen Falla, NOR; 3. Celine Brun-Lie, NOR; 4. Marit Bjoergen, NOR; 5. Heidi Weng, NOR
Canadian Results:
40. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont.

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