-Norwegians claim double gold, Canadian World Cup rookies, Kershaw and Grey, shine posting best ever result for men's team-
Oberstdorf, GER-The successful week continued for the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany on Friday. Canada made its second trip to the medal ceremony after World Cup rookies, Devon Kershaw and George Grey, teamed up to finish sixth in the star-studded sprint relay competition. It was the best relay result ever in the history of the men’s program.
The Canadian duo, who were not expected to contend for a medal in the event, moved into the relay finals with the top-10 teams after qualifying in their semi final heat of 12 teams in third spot. The young Canucks completed the six leg skate skiing final with a time of 14 minutes 29.4 seconds. Each athlete skied three legs of the 1.2 kilometre track.
“This was an absolutely amazing day and we are so excited,” said 22-year-old Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., who got his first taste of World Cup action last season, and joined the elite international circuit again this year after Christmas. “It’s unbelievable for me. I am racing against guys that I have so much respect for, and I have watched them on television, and now I really feel like we are contending for a medal against them.”
With Kershaw skiing the opening leg and Grey the anchor, the two Canadians skied in second and third spot throughout most of the day including the final until the dash to the wire.
“We weren’t skiing with the world today, they were skiing with us,” said George Grey, 25, of Rossland, B.C. “We would have been ecstatic with a top-10 result, but we were hunting down number one all day and it was just a solid performance by both of us.”
Grey has been the leader of the Canadian men’s team over the last two years, and is completing his first full season on the World Cup. Known more as a distance skier, Grey proved earlier this week he also has sprinting legs after he finished 19th in the individual sprint.
Meanwhile, Devon Kershaw has steadfastly improved in the sprinting events since joining the world’s elite in January. After winning all there is to claim in North America in the discipline, the highlight of the Canadian youngsters season came on Tuesday when he finished 14th in the individual sprint competition at the World Championships.
Canada, who joined the top-six countries at the medal ceremony on Friday evening, watched the Norwegian men mount the top step of the podium after finishing with a time of 14:08.6. Germany claimed the silver medal in front of their hometown fans after posting a time of 14:12.4, while the Czech Republic took home the bronze medal at 14:13.4.
The Canadian women’s team of Olympic gold medallist, Beckie Scott of Vermilion, Alta. and Sara Renner of Canmore, Alta., who won the nation’s first ever world championship medal on Tuesday, were unable to mount an attack in the women’s 6 x 0.9 kilometre sprint relay. The Canadian speed queens advanced to the final round of 10, but couldn’t move any further up the standings after finishing with a time of 12:52.1.
Norway also claimed gold in the women’s event with a time of 12:19.7. They were joined on the podium by Finland in second spot at 12:22.5, while Russia grabbed the bronze medal with a time of 12:23.3.
Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada. Its 45,000 members are athletes, coaches and officials, including members of the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team and Canadian Disabled Cross-Country Ski Team. Cross-country skiing is Canada’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually.
Complete Results: www.fis-ski.com
Top-6 Men: (6×1.2 kilometre sprint relay)
1.Norway, 14:08.6; 2. Germany, 14:12.4; 3. Czech Republic, 14:13.4; 4. Italy, 14:21.9; 5. France 14:22.9; 6. Canada (Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont.; George Grey, Rossland, B.C.), 14:29.4.
Top-6 Women: (6×0.9 kilometre sprint relay)
1.Norway, 12:19.7; 2. Finland, 12:22.5; 3. Russia, 12:23.3; 4. Germany, 12:29.5; 5. Italy, 12:30.8; 6. France, 12:33.9
10. Canada (Beckie Scott, Vermilion, Alta.; Sara Renner, Canmore, Alta.) 12:52.1
Source: Cross Country Canada