By: Doug McIntyre/CCC
Borlaenge, SWE — The boys are back in town. For the first time in more than 15 years, the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team had a male competitor reach the podium in World Cup action to cap off a heady day of double medal results and four top-10 finishes on Tuesday.
In a case of rookie fire and veteran savvy, respectively, Devon Kershaw and Sara Renner both turned in bronze-medal performances in the sprint events to put a Canadian on both the men’s and women’s podium, prompting celebration among their teammates.
â€œWhen I was a kid, it was dreaming of stuff like this that got me out the door most mornings. This feels absolutely amazing,â€ said an ecstatic Kershaw, Canada’s first male podium finisher in cross-country skiing since Pierre Harvey strung together three World Cup triumphs in the late 1980s. â€œIt was great to win a medal on the same day as Sara and it was just a great day for our team.â€
Although the 23-year-old Sudbury, Ont. native battled the injury bug earlier this season, Kershaw served notice during his Olympic debut last month that he was developing into a force to be reckoned with. He skied to a first-place finish in the opening leg of the Olympic relay in Torino, Italy, a result that foreshadowed today’s stellar performance.
â€œI think I did carry some momentum from the Olympics into the race tonight,â€ said Kershaw, who improved on an already impressive fourth-place result in the qualifying round en route to the bronze medal. â€œHopefully it will continue to carry on for the next two weeks.â€
Also enjoying some post-Olympic momentum was Renner, 29, who teamed up with compatriot Beckie Scott to win silver in Torino in the women’s team sprint, and continued her strong run with today’s bronze medal result.
â€œToday was a blast,â€ said Renner, who shares her hometown of Canmore, Alta. with teammate Chandra Crawford, the Olympic gold medallist in the women’s sprint event. â€œIt’s a different atmosphere being away from the Olympics. It feels like being back to normal.â€
For Renner and her female cohorts, Scott and Crawford, the normal situation during the 2005-06 campaign has seen Canada’s golden girls earn a full trophy case worth of World Cup hardware, along with two Olympic medals.
Yet to see the men’s side experience its own flush of podium success suits Renner just fine.
â€œIt’s been great to be successful as a women’s team,â€ she said. â€œBut it’s also really rewarding to see the men’s team do well, especially Devon since he’s worked so hard this year.â€
Crawford and Scott also enjoyed productive outings Tuesday, finishing eighth and tenth, respectively, in the women’s sprint. The former, who stunned the field with her gold medal win in Torino, proved her glittering Olympic result was no fluke when she posted an impressive second-place result in the qualifying round.
Italy’s Arianna Follis took the top honour in the women’s sprint, while Norway’s Marit Bjoergen continued to exorcise the memories of a disappointing turn in Torino by claiming the silver, her second post-Olympic World Cup medal in as many races.
Kershaw effectively broke the host country’s podium monopoly on the men’s side, with Swedes Thobias Fredriksson and Peter Larsson finishing one and two, respectively.
World Cup cross-country skiing action continues tomorrow with the pursuit races in Falun, Sweden.
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.
Top-5 Men’s Results:
1. Thobias Fredriksson, SWE; 2. Peter Larsson, SWE; 3. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., CAN; 4. Bjoern Lind, SWE; 5. Tor Arne Hetland, NOR.
Top-5 Women’s Results:
1. Arianna Follis, ITA; 2. Marit Bjoergen, NOR; 3. Sara Renner, Canmore, Alta., CAN; 4. Emelie Oehrstig, SWE; 5. Kikkan Randall, USA.
8. Chandra Crawford, Canmore, Alta.; 10. Beckie Scott, Vermilion, Alta.