(ISN) – OTEPAA, Est.—Canada’s Jesse Cockney and Len Valjas joined forces for a solid day, finishing in eighth spot in a team sprint relay on Sunday in Otepaa, Estonia.
Putting a difficult sprint race on Saturday behind them, Cockney, of Canmore, Alta., and Toronto’s Valjas, hit the start line for their second ever 6×1.5 KM team sprint relay together. The Canadian duo advanced to the final after posting the third fastest time in a very quick and well executed tactical semifinal heat. The top two teams in each heat advance to the final along with the next six fastest times. Six teams from the Canadians semifinal heat secured spots in the final.
Athletes each ski three laps, handing off to their teammate after each loop. Cockney skied the opening leg of the relay for the Canadians. The 25 year old maintained pace in a tightly packed lead group, skiing in eighth spot before handing to Valjas. With the leaders attacking in the second lap on the challenging 1.5-kilometre loop which features two significant climbs, the young Canucks were not able to respond to the pace, but held onto eight spot. Valjas, 26, brought the Canadians home with a time of 20:01.9 in the final.
“I was definitely eager to forget about yesterday’s race, and put up a good result this morning,” said Cockney. “Personally I felt like I skied calmly and made good decisions tactically to help us – especially in the semifinal
It was the first time Cockney and Valjas have raced together in a team sprint in Europe. They previously teamed up for a 10th-place finish at a World Cup in Quebec City two years ago.
Russia’s Alexey Petukhov and Sergey Ustiugov won the team sprint with a time of 19:39.10. Norway’s Anders Gloeersen and Fin Haagen Krogh celebrated the silver medal at 19:39.50, while Italy’s team of Dietmar Noeckler and Federico Pellegrino charged to the final step of the podium with a time of 19:52.05.
The World Cup now heads to Rybinsk, Russia. Canada will welcome back its elite group including Alex Harvey, Devon Kershaw, and Ivan Babikov, who are all taking a well deserved rest after the grind of the Tour de Ski.