—Devon Kershaw enjoys solid distance race in 28th—
TOBLACH, Ita.—Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw bounced back after a challenging sprint race Saturday to climb back into the points with the top-30 during a 15-kilometre classic-ski race on Sunday in Toblach, Italy.
Harvey, of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., finished as the top Canuck in 16th spot, while Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., battled to 28th place. Harvey clocked a time of 36:57.3. Kershaw stopped the clock at 37:42.1.
“Definitely a solid effort by the guys and I think it shows they are good mentally to be able to bounce back after yesterday,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “I think everyone got really excited when Alex finished second on the opening weekend, but right now we are back on our plan. The focus is on the two Tours this year and we’ve been building to that. The results have been relatively strong heading into the Tour de Ski, and today was a step in the right direction.
“Devon has been in the points in every distance race this year, and I think that may be the first time he has been able to do that in his career which is good.”
With conditions on the artificial snow-filled course sending wax techs into a frenzy this weekend, the top-two Canadian skiers were among many of the world’s best skiers who chose to doublepole each of the three laps around the five-kilometre course. Athletes struggled at the beginning of the Toblach track, which consists of an uphill for the first half followed by a long downhill. The gamble paid off with a solid outing for the Canadians.
“This is the first time that Alex or Devon has doublepoled a whole distance race so that was a solid effort today,” added Wadsworth. “The guys have showed they are in it. Their shape is good. We need to keep plugging away, and progressing towards the Tour.”
Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby continued his early dominance of the World Cup season, skiing away with the gold medal after posting a time of 35:27.4. Russia’s Alexander Bessmertnykh finished nearly 13 seconds off the leading pace in second at 35:40.0, while Norways Sjur Roethe skied to the final step of the men’s podium with a time of 36:16.0.
Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., doublepoled his way to 54th place with a time of 39:07.1. Michael Somppi, of Thunder Bay, Ont., finished 70th (40:02.3). Canadian sprint specialist, Len Valjas of Toronto, placed 75th at 40:31.0.
Meanwhile, Emily Nishikawa was back in action on Sunday after sitting out yesterday’s sprint race to prepare for her specialty 10-kilometre classic-ski. The move was a good one as the young Whitehorse product turned in her best performance of the season, placing tied for 39th with a time of 30:32.5.
“This was a good result for Emily. She is in better shape now than she has been in years past. We are hoping for Emily to get into that top-30 so we need to keep working and progressing towards that goal,” said Wadsworth.
Norway’s Therese Johaug shattered the field, winning by nearly 30 seconds with a time of 27:22.4. Finland’s Krista Parmakoski was the next best finisher at 27:50.6, while Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, also of Norway, grabbed the bronze medal with a time of 28:02.5.
The World Cup will now take a break until the annual Tour de Ski gets underway January 1 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 35:27.4; 2. Alexander Bessmertnykh, RUS, 35:40.0; 3. Sjur Roethe, NOR, 36:16.0; 4. Dario Cologna, SUI, 36:28.2; 5. Stanislav Volzhentsev, RUS, 36:32.9
16. Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., 36:57.3; 28. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 37:42.1; 54. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 39:07.1; 70. Michael Somppi, Thunder Bay, Ont., 40:02.3; 75. Len Valjas, Toronto, 40:31.0
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Therese Johaug, NOR, 27:22.4; 2. Krista Parmakoski, FIN, 27:50.6; 3. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR, 28:02.5; 4. Heidi Weng, NOR, 28:07.6; 5. Charlotte Kalla, SWE, 28:12.6
T39. Emily Nishikawa, Whitehorse, CAN, 30:32.5