Canadian Men’s Cross-Country Skiers Solid in Ninth at World Cup Relay in Czech Republic
Cross Country Canada —Young Canadian women’s team gains strong experience in 12th—
NOVE MESTO, Cze.—A group of Canadian men turned in the nation’s second best cross-country ski relay result ever when they were ninth at the World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on Sunday
Two Canadian veterans in Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.) and Len Valjas (Toronto) joined up with the future of the sport in Graeme Killick (Fort McMurray, Alta.) and World Cup rookie, Knute Johnsgaard (Whitehorse) for the 4×7.5 kilometre relay. The Canucks clocked a combined time of 1:09:44.1.
“It was a super solid day for our team. To be ninth and only 75 seconds off the winning pace is really impressive,” said Kershaw. “It was just a lot of fun today. When you have four guys all skiing strong and you are mixing it up in the race, that is a blast.”
Killick hammered the pace early for the Canucks skiing with the main pack for much of his leg before dropping to the back of a group of about 15 teams. It was Kershaw who took the Canadian squad on his back, picking off one country after the other as he worked his way into the top-10 and handed off to Valjas in seventh. The lanky Canadian maintained the position throughout his leg before passing the torch to Johnsgaard who was competing in just his second World Cup race. The rookie was rock solid until the final kilometre where he lost two spots but held on for ninth place.
“Yesterday was a real battle with soft, slow conditions and today was very tricky conditions waxing-wise. I felt really good today. Even as soon as I started warming up I knew I was on a better day than yesterday,” said Kershaw who was looking for a little redemption after Saturday’s race. “For me, seeing Graeme ski so well, and wanting to put Lenny in the thick of things, were all strong motivators. It was a solid day today and those good feelings in classic race I will take with me into the next competition.”
Norway won the relay with a time of 1:08:29.0. Russia skied to the silver medal at 1:08:35.0, while the Italian team grabbed the bronze at 1:09:23.3.
Four Canadian women representing the future of the sport in Canada suited up for a 4×6 kilometre relay of their own.
Emily Nishikawa led the way for the Canadian girls, skiing the opening lap in seventh spot. Nishikawa handed off to fellow Whitehorse resident, Dahria Beatty who dropped to 10th spot by the end of her leg. Cendrine Browne, of St-Jerome, Que., and Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Athabasca, Alta.) were in a duel with the Russians over the final two legs. The Canadians finished 12th at 55:19.6.
“It was really important to get these girls into a team event. We know we have a young group of female skiers and skiers in Canada, but the key for them was to remember this is the beginning,” said Chris Jeffries, coach of the development tour where Cross Country Ski de Fond is giving its young athletes valuable race experience.. “We knew we would be in tough, but with Emily leading the way we have a lot of hope for the future women’s teams.”
Norway won the women’s race with a time of 50:17.2. The Americans were second at 50:59.3, while Finland won the bronze medal at 51:13.1.
The World Cup now travels to Drammen, Norway.
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, and Mackenzie Investments – 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.
Men’s Relay Results: http://www.fis-ski.com/cross-country/events-and-places/event=37417/race=25803/
Women’s Relay Results:
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