—Kershaw leads Canucks in 20th, Harvey finishes 22nd—
DAVOS, Sui.—Canada’s Devon Kershaw is quietly serving notice to the world to not count him out just yet.
The second-place finisher on the Overall World Cup standings in 2012 has had to deal with his share of bad luck over the last three years including injuries, illnesses and disappointing performances.
But the 32-year-old Nordic warrior is not going down without a fight and early this year is proving he still has some gas left in the tank.
Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont,, led the Canadians with a 20th-place performance in the men’s 30-kilometre skate-skiing race at the World Cup in Davos, Switzlerland, posting a time of 1:08:25.6.
“It played out well for me today! It was one of those rare races where in my race plan that I wrote the night before, I was able to execute it almost exactly,” said Kershaw. “I wanted to start extra conservatively and bring the pace up and up throughout the race and really focus on my technical cues that I laid out for myself. So yes, for sure it was a solid day – all the distance races so far this year have been just that – solid! I am happy with the consistency and it’s a good place to build from moving forward. “
Newly married this summer and a refreshed outlook on his life as a high-performance athlete, Kershaw is once again a regular in the elite group of 30 this year – all of whom can contend for a spot on the podium. On Saturday, it was one of the three-time Olympians best distance races this year – not to mention his career.
“It’s my first 30 kilometre individual start skate race since 2004 – and on that day in Italy it was my worst-ever World Cup race of my life where I finished third last. To have some good feelings 11 years later, in an event I’ve been avoiding, was nice,” said Kershaw.
“I have had to really adjust my expectations as well. A few years ago I would be pretty disappointed to be between 20-30, but now I am happy with how I am executing things and the results too are good confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction.”
Starting in fourth spot in the individual race, Kershaw dropped as far back as 30th, but skied with many of the world’s biggest names down the narrow track to climb into 20th when all was said and done.
“Things seem to be trending up for me now – so that’s really nice – especially mentally after struggling in the last couple years,” said Kershaw. “The goal is to hit the points more constantly – and I have been doing that and have been between 20-30 in all the distance races. I think it gives me a good platform to make that jump back into the top 10.”
Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby finished on top by 20 seconds with a time of 1:06:27.9. Maurice Manificat, of France, skied to the silver medal at 1:06:48.6, while Norway’s Anders Gloeersen locked up the bronze at 1:06:56.5.
Alex Harvey, of Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., finished on Kershaw’s heels in 22nd spot at 1:08:27.6. Harvey now sits 11th in the Overall World Cup standings. Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., placed 36th at 1:09:15.5, while Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, was 46th (1:10:27.8). Michael Somppi, of Thunder Bay, Ont., rounded out the Canadian contingent in 68th at 1:12:46.3.
Earlier in the day, Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, put down a solid effort in the women’s 15-kilometre individual start skate-ski race.
Nishikawa, 26, had one of her strongest races of the year, placing 39h with a time of 35:40.3
The Norwegians dominated the women’s race skiing to the top-five positions. Therese Johaug captured the gold with a time of 34:40.3. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg was second across the finish line at 36:50.6, while Heidi Weng stopped the clock at 36:55.6 to win the bronze medal.
The World Cup continues on Sunday in Davos with the skate-ski sprint races.
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 1:06:27.9; 2. Maurice Manificat, FRA, 1:06:48.6; 3. Anders Gloeersen, NOR, 1:06:56.5; 4. Sjur Roethe, NOR, 1:07:11.3; 5. Jean Marc Gaillard, FRA, 1:07:12.6
20. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 1:08:25.6; 22. Alex Harvey, of Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., 1:08:25.6; 36. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 1:09:15.5; 46. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 1:10:27.8; 68. Michael Somppi, Thunder Bay, Ont., 1:12:46.3
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Therese Johaug, NOR, 35:40.3; 2. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR, 36:50.6; 3. Heidi Weng, NOR, 36:55.6; 4. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, NOR, 36:55.8; 5. Kari Oeyre Slind, NOR, 37:17.6
39. Emily Nishikawa, Whitehorse, 39:45.8