Nikolai Pankrotov of Russia won his first World Cup race, outsprinting an impressive pack in the men’s 30km pursuit in Canmore. The 25 year old did not get much notice during the race — skiing in the midst of the large pack, never straying to far from the front, but not pushing to the top. Giorgio DiCenta (ITA) took second. The veteran Italian had been unsure of his post Tour de Ski plans, considering staying in Europe and racing the famed Marcialonga. But his strong performance in the Tour encouraged him to make the trip to Canada.
Axel Teichmann of Germany edged teammate Tobias Angerer in a photo finish to claim the final podium spot. Italy capped a strong day with Pietro Piller Cottrer and Valerio Checcci in fifth and sixth respectively.
The host nation had a very successful day, with Devon Kershaw in 16th and George Gray in 17th. Ivan Babikov, now a Canadian citizen, but still racing in Russian colors was 13th. Kris Freeman was the top American in 22nd, +38.2. Freeman represented the tail of the lead pack.
â€œI think there was a little inexperience there being at the front because you can’t react and the next thing you know 10 guys can blow by you,â€ said Kershaw. “
â€œThere is so much maneuvering in a race like this, you just want to position yourself for the sprint at the end,â€ said Kershaw, who suited up for this first World Cup race in Canada. He was injured when the Canadian squad hosted the 2005 World Cup races. â€œI will learn from this, and right now I’m just happy knowing that I am consistent and regularly in the top-20.â€
Babikov, Freeman and Gray impressively skied back onto the top group after falling behind by 30 meters.
“I think it was a pretty good race for Kris. We know he's capable of more, but I think this positions him pretty well for the 15K skate race Friday,” USST Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said. “His fitness is good, but it's still not quite top racing fitness. And Leif's race was solid. I'm anxious to see what he does Friday in the skate race, too. I think he'll do well.”
Leif Zimmermann was the second American, finishing 38th, just over four minute off the pace. Leif looked strong in the early stages of the skate portion, but appeared to tire over the last 7 km.
Michael Sinnott finished 43rd and looked strong all day and was able to ski off the front of a small pack during the skate after pulling it. Lars Flora, Zach Violett, Zack Simons, and Garrott Kuzzy rounded out the finishers in 45th, 47th, 48th and 49th respectively.
David Chamberlain and James Southam did not complete the race.
Men's 30K Pursuit (15K CL+15K FR)
1. Nikolai Pankratov, Russia, 1:16.33.8
2. Giorgio DiCenta, Italy, 1:16.34.2
3. Axel Teichmann, Germany, 1:16.34.4 (won photo finish)
4. Tobias Angerer, Germany, 1:16.34.4
5. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 1:16.34.8
American and Canadian Finishers
16. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 1:16:41.5
17. George Grey, Rossland, B.C., 1:16:42.2
22. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 1:17.12.0
38. Leif Zimmermann, Bozeman, MT, 1:22.214.171.124
39. Dan Roycroft, Port Sydney, Ont., 1:21:17.9
41. Brian McKeever, Canmore, Alta., 1:22:03.9
42. Robin McKeever, Canmore, Alta., 1:22:11.4
43. Mike Sinnott, Sun Valley, ID, 1:23.15.5
44. Chris Jeffries, Chelsea, Que., 1:23:37.2
45. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK, 1:23.53.0
46. Gord Jewett, Toronto, 1:23:53.6
47. Zach Violett, Brownsville, CA, 1:24.27.9
48. Zack Simons, Sun Valley, ID, 1:25.09.5
49. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI, 1:25.38.5
Contributing Sources: USSA, Cross-Country Canada