Imagine you are in the best shape of your life, skiing in a World Cup and finding yourself able to hang with the World's best kilometer after kilometer, hill after hill. Then you somehow find the strength and the will to kick it up a notch and start passing Olympic medalists, World Champions, and overall World Cup winners including the guy that won this exact race by a landslide 3 years ago. The overall World Cup leader is barely staying ahead of you. You put on a massive sprint at the end and finish an incredibly close 3.7 seconds behind the winner, good enough for…16th place.
Such was the case for Canadian Devon Kershaw in this morning's 10km+10km pursuit in Falun, Sweden, possibly the most closely-contested World Cup cross country race in history. While massive 10-, 20-, or even 30-skier sprint finishes are becoming more and more common on the World Cup, today's 20km race had the most ridiculously tight finish in recent memory.
Petter Northug…First Junior To Win A World Cup??
Northug topped the field by a half second, staying just clear of a three-way photo finish taking place behind him between Angerer (second) Teichman (third) and another young, up-and-coming Norwegian, Tord Asle Gjerdalen (fourth.) Olympic silver medalist from the pursuit, Frode Estil, made it three in the top five for Norway by beating out Slovakian Martin Bajcicak and France's Jonnier (who took part in the breakaway attempt with Magal earlier.)
Magal ended up “way off the pace” in 21st (5.3 seconds out) as was recent Olympic medalist Pietro Piller Cottrer of Italy who was an entire 6.5 seconds behind after a little less than 52 minutes of racing. First through 22nd was basically one big solid photo finish, separated by the occasional skier coming in all by themselves in no-man's land with a whole 0.2 seconds of space around them for example.
Kershaw's excellent 16th (+3.7 seconds) was the only Canadian result, and Carl Swenson's 56th (+3:39.6) was the only American finish as David Chamberlain and Andrew Johnson did not start and Kris Freeman did not continue the race after coming into the pit stop (at the half way point) in 55th, 1 minute 13 seconds out.
Full results from the men's race: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=10247
You can also view split times at the following link until the sprints begin early Thursday morning: http://www.sportresult.com/sports/htm/cc/cc.htm