The eight-stage 2010 Tour de Ski cross-country races won't wrap up until this weekend's competitions at Val di Fiemme, Italy but at the midway point Canada's Devon Kershaw was holding his own against the top skiers in the world.
In the opening 3.75 km freestyle prologue in Oberhof, Germany, Shaw placed 37th overall, but things started to improve immediately afterwards for the 28 year old.
The next day he placed second in the 15 km classic pursuit race, jumping into the top 10 of the Tour de Ski standings. He followed the tour to Oberstdorf, Germany where he qualified second in the classic sprint, which he then followed up with his second silver medal of the week. He dropped to seventh in the men's 20 km pursuit the next day.
From Germany, the tour moved to Cortina-Toblach, Italy for a skate ski sprint event, which is where Kershaw really exploded. He blasted out of the gate in the finals and took the gold medal by inches - the first gold medal of his career.
"I'm thrilled," he said of his win in the fifth of eight stages. "I'm more than thrilled. I absolutely cannot believe it. Justin (Wadsworth, the men's head coach) kept telling me all year to be patient and the win would come. I wanted to believe him and I just kept staying with the plan. This is unreal."
Kershaw also thanked the team's ski technician. "I had the best skis in the world today," he said. Our technicians are the best in the business and are the key to these podium results.
"My goal coming into the Tour was to have to really good races and I already have three. I have never been so concerned with the overall title, I just want to have some good results because this event is such a long haul."
Alex Harvey, 22, is also having a great series, placing 18th in the prologue, ninth in the pursuit, seventh in the classic sprint, 15th in the pursuit and 14th in the skate sprint.
"It was a good surprise for me today," said Harvey after the final sprint in Germany. "I felt really good in the heats and the wax techs did a great job with my skis. I was fast in my heat but came up a bit short. This is just really good for my confidence and I have to be happy with my position heading into the mass start pursuit."
Kershaw had high praise for his teammate.
"Alex is the best skier to ever come through our program, period," he said. "Yes, we've had Beckie (Scott) and Chandra (Crawford) win Olympic and World Cup medals and (Alex's father) Pierre (Harvey) and myself winning some World Cup medals, but this guy has won countless World Junior Championship medals and for him to come in and compete the way he is on the World Cup at just 22 years of age is absolutely incredible. He is the top dog. He will be here long after me, and nobody should think different."
The Tour de Ski events are recognized World Cup events, and Kershaw's silver medals represent his first podiums at that level in two seasons.
The Tour continues with more events at Cortina-Toblach, followed by the final stage at Val di Fiemme.
Dario Cologna retained the overall lead in the series with a combined time of 1:39:53, while Kershaw was second in 1:40:35 - a sizable lead over third-place racer Marcus Hellner of Sweden. Alex Harvey, through sheer consistency, was sixth.
There were no female racers representing Canada on the women's Tour de Ski. The top overall racer after four events was Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland in 1:05:08, followed by Petra Majdic of Slovenia in 1:05:47 and Charlotte Kalla of Sweden in 1:06:16.