With their eyes on the prize of a holiday break (for biathletes and non-Tour de Ski participants, two weekends off of the World Cup), a number of North American skiers notched competitive results, and for some — even career bests — in the last week.
It has been a year and a half since Lenny Valjas last made an appearance in World Cup sprint heats. Let that sink in. The tall Canadian is thrilled that not only is he back and feeling like himself, but he didn’t just squeak in – he qualified tenth and missed a lucky loser spot in the semifinals by just 0.03 seconds.
Pål Golberg put every ounce of faith in his boards on Friday in order to overcome Norwegian teammate Finn Hågen Krogh and Russia’s Alexey Petukhov and win the Lillehammer World Cup 1.5 k freestyle sprint. Two-time lucky loser, Canada’s Alex Harvey found himself in contention in the final before finishing fifth on Day 1 of the mini tour.
Sunday was for the distance racers in Gällivare, Sweden, with five Canadians — four men and one woman — getting a chance to test their form in the 10/15 k classic races. Alex Harvey notched his second-podium performance in third, Emily Nishikawa was fourth, Devon Kershaw fifth, Ivan Babikov sixth, and Graeme Killick eighth.
Regulars for the last week in Gällivare, the Canadians put themselves in the mix in Saturday’s classic sprints with Perianne Jones winning the women’s final, Alex Harvey taking second to Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov in the men’s final, Lenny Valjas placing fourth and Jess Cockney bringing it home in sixth.
Good workouts never get old. This week, we bring back a Pro Workout of the past, which Devon Kershaw wrote almost exactly four years ago, just before leaving for Europe in early November. “A great workout this time of year – especially if you are coming off some volume (at altitude or not) and feel your body needs that lactate tolerance work to ‘shock’ the system,” Kershaw writes.
While two Americans won Friday’s Frozen Thunder sprints, Canada had its revenge on Monday, taking four of six podium spots. In the men’s 10.8 k skate race, Devon Kershaw bested Kris Freeman by five seconds to take the win. In the Women’s 7.2 k race, biathlete Rosanna Crawford edged Liz Stephen for the win.
There are a couple things one can count on in Canmore, including solid tracks and quality snow, even in October. At the first unofficial sprint of the North American season on Friday, more than 120 racers found both for the Frozen Thunder classic sprint, and organizers added what could be a new tradition to the mix: a zero-elimination format.