Canada’s hopes for an Olympic medal in men’s cross-country skiing got another boost at the World Cup in Oberhof, Germany on Sunday, Dec. 28, as Sudbury, Ontario’s Devon Kershaw climbed the podium in the men’s 15 km classic double pursuit race.
It was Kershaw’s third career World Cup podium, but his first in a long distance event. It also comes on the heels of a fifth place result at a previous World Cup in Finland, and a string of solid top-30 results.
Kershaw credits his recent success in longer events to better pacing, going out slower and having more in the tank for the final sprint to the finish.
“I am super happy to get my way back onto the World Cup podium,” said Kershaw, who edged out Finland’s Sami Jauhojarvi by a photo finish to win the bronze. “I knew with the final one kilometre it was a sprint race and I was surrounded by distance skiers so I played it smart and did exactly what I wanted to do. This is a huge accomplishment for me.”
Kershaw finished second in a skate-sprint race in the 2007 Tour de Ski, and also has a bronze medal in a World Cup in 2006.
“To be able to podium in a distance race is so important to me, especially given my age and experience,” he said. “I am super relaxed and trust my shape so much more now. Success breeds success and I can trust myself a lot more.”
Ivan Babikov, who is racing as a Canadian this year after racing as a Russian in past years, was 27 th , moving up 23 spots from the 50 th start position. George Grey of Rossland was 34 th .
In the Ladies 10 km classic the only Canadian in the field was Sara Renner, who paced 13 th out of 49 finishers.
There were also sprint events before the classic races. On the women’s side, Renner was 14 th in the 2.5 km freestyle prologue. Kershaw was fifth in the men’s 3.75 km freestyle, 0.8 seconds back of the podium. George Grey was ninth in that event, his best World Cup result to date.