After a couple of flat weeks, Canada's Devon Kershaw came out fast in the World Cup cross-country races at Davos, Switzerland last weekend.
First up was the freestyle event, with the women racing 10 km and the men 15 km.
Kershaw placed ninth with a time of 36:33.8, less than eight seconds back of a spot in the top five.
"I worked so incredibly hard for that today," he said. "I had to go all out and then some.
"I try not to focus on results, but it has been such a bad start with all kinds of things going on that I didn't know what to expect. I paid the price today, but that was a great race for me no matter what time of the year it is."
Some of the "things going on" that Kershaw was referring to include the loss of their coach to a hip injury and a couple of hellish trips to Europe with long and unexpected layovers along the way.
Finland's Matti Heikkinen took the win in 35:54.8, followed by Marcus Hellner of Sweden in 36:09.2. The French skiers worked together as a team to take five of the next six spots, with Maurice Manificat third.
Other Canadians in the top 30 include Ivan Babikov 26 th and George Grey 28 th . Alex Harvey was 34 th .
On the women's side Irina Khazova of Russia placed first, followed by Charlotte Kalla of Sweden and Kristijna Smigun-Vaehi of Estonia. Sara Renner was the lone Canadian, racing to 25 th place.
Next up was the sprint event, with both the men and women racing a one-kilometre loop from start to finish.
Kershaw placed 12 th in the men's qualifier, but slipped back to 23 rd overall. None of the Canadian women cracked the top 30.
Biathletes turning heads
Canada's biathlon team exploded into the 2009-2010 season with athletes earning points in the first two events of the season.
The season opener was in Sweden on Dec. 3 with the individual pursuit event.
In the men's 20 km race Jean-Philippe Le Guellec placed 10 th , just 80 seconds back of the podium.
"This is by far my best individual result, and I think it was a mental barrier that I had before," he said. Le Guellec was strong on his skis, but also very solid on the range after missing just two shots out of 20 in his four trips to the range. All three of the podium finishers missed just one shot each.
In the women's 15 km event Zina Kocher led the team, finishing in 56 th position.
In the 10 km sprint the next day, Le Guellec proved that his top 10 was no fluke with a 12 th place finish in the 10 km sprint race - three laps of a 3.3 km course and three stops at the shooting range. Every missed shot equals one lap of the 150 metre penalty loop.
Kocher improved dramatically and finished her day in the women's 7.5 km race in 34 th place.
The weekend finished with a 14 th place result in the men's relay.
The next events took place last weekend in Austria. Kocher led the way in the sprint, placing 18 th overall while missing just one shot at the range. "That was much better today and I feel like I'm back on track," she said.
In the men's sprint Jamie Robb led the way in 41 st spot, while Guellec dropped back to 124 th .
Kocher also led the team in the individual races the next day with a 21 st place finish. She missed five shots in four trips to the range, which cost her several spots in the rankings.
The women's team then placed 13 th in the relay event.