Russia’s Alexey Pethukov and Sergey Ustiugov emerged as a team-sprint force to be reckoned with in the first team sprint of the season and last one before World Championships, and Canada’s Jess Cockney and Lenny Valjas teamed up for eighth.
Last year, Canada’s Alex Harvey won the Tour de Ski prologue. That wasn’t going to happen today: “I haven’t quite found my groove in skating this year,” he said, but he’s still in a great position for tomorrow’s 15 k pursuit. Meanwhile, Simi Hamilton of the U.S. Ski Team scored his first World Cup distance points in 26th.
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.