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Kershaw adds two medals as XC team gains momentum

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Canmore's Devon Kershaw is on a tear, winning two medals this past weekend in Russia and appearing on three consecutive podiums. He was close to making it four podiums, but finished sixth in the final skiathlon at Rybinsk.

Kershaw is at a loss to explain where the speed is coming from:

"It only took 10 years, but I got it," said Kershaw, after his win in the men's 15km mass start race on Saturday. "I can't explain it. The body is just feeling super good. I'm in good shape, but I'm just having a lot of fun.

"There is lots of positives today. This is my first distance win. My first distance skate ski podium, so now I have reached the podium in every discipline and distance."

With 10 World Cup podiums to his credit including world championship gold medal with teammate Alex Harvey, Kershaw is the most successful cross-country athlete in Canadian history. Pierre Harvey — Alex's father — had three wins and a bronze in the 1980s.

Kershaw pushed for the win, and knew heading into the final sprint that he had the race.

"I got to the top of that last climb in third and I looked around and said 'I'm going to take this one,'" he said. "I felt so comfortable today in the pack. I just knew at the top of that hill I was going to win. That is a really good feeling."

It wasn't a bad team day, with Alex Harvey finishing fifth and Ivan Babikov in 17th.

Kershaw's bronze medal came in the freestyle sprint event on Thursday, with teammate Alex Harvey in ninth and Len Valjas in 12th for Canada.

In the skiathlon race, a 30km event where skiers went 15km on classic skis and 15km on skate skis, Kerhsaw and Harvey placed sixth and eighth respectively.

Kershaw and Harvey stuck with the lead group for most of the race, but a pack of four Russian skiers worked together to divide the field and took four out of the top five spots and five spots in the top eighth.

"The plan is to stay near the front and out of trouble because it can get really tight out there," said Kershaw, 29. "You have to try and conserve energy and ski relaxed in the pack because you need that energy for a sprint finish."

After the weekend, Kershaw now sits third overall in the World Cup standings — still well behind Dario Cologna of Switzerland and Petter Northug Jr. of Norway. Alex Harvey moved up to sixth.

On the women's side, Daria Gaiazova was 22nd for Canada in the sprint while Perianne Jones was 24th. Chandra Crawford had an off day to place 36th.

None of the Canadian women made the trip from the sprint in Moscow to the mass start and skiathlon events at Rybinsk.

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