The Road to Whistler: Devon Kershaw

November 23, 2009

Devon Kershaw

Devon Kershaw has been on the Senior National Team for 8 years.  Ending last year’s season in  21st for the final World Cup standings, this multi-medaled Canadian gives us his take on the start of the season and his hope for the team.
What are your goals for the season?

This will come as no surprise – but the main objective for myself, and our whole team (and in reality – the entire World!) is focused on the Olympic Games. It’s been a busy 4 years since the last Games, and we are all excited to get the season going and we cruise into an opportunity of a lifetime (racing an Olympics @ home).

I don’t tend to make many “outcome” goals for myself and this year is no different. There are so many extremely talented skiers on the World Cup out there today and the difference between a great race internationally and a poor one can mean 50+ places, so I find it best (for me) not to focus on things out of my control (like – how other people’s shape is, week in/week out…).

The times I thought about results, World Cup points, etc… I’ve bombed races, so it’s not a tactic I use often. Now, I try to focus on keeping good energy, recovering well between racing weekends, and most importantly – stay positive no matter what – both in races themselves, and especially post race.  It sounds corny, and perhaps it is – but that (and other “process” goals) is what I try and focus on to get the best out of myself.

Kershaw admits to liking the mass starts and sprint formats: a junkie of thrills and spills?
Kershaw admits to liking the mass start and sprint formats: a junkie of thrills and spills? (photo: Dan Roycroft)

Are you focused on a specific distance/technique?

I am not focused on any one specific distance or technique but I do prefer classic skiing. I feel more confident in the classic technique and our team’s objective is to be racing to the best of our ability in the Olympic relay – and I will most likely be doing the classic leg in that competition.

As far as distances, I like them all, each offer a different challenge, whether that’s racing in individual races, mass starts, or sprints – they are all so different. I train as a distance skier, and don’t do anything specific for sprinting necessarily.

You just posted a fantastic result at Bruksvallarna, Sweden – how was your summer of training and how do you feel your fitness is right now?

I was very surprised to win the tune up race in Bruksvallarna, Sweden last weekend. That said, everyone is training a lot these days (myself included) and I tend to race well of higher volume training (maybe better than others that need to drop the hours down before posting good races). I wasn’t expecting all that much going into Sunday’s race to be honest. Going into the race, I had a very simple race plan I wanted to adhere to (a few key “process” goals type thing), and I was thrilled to be able to deliver on those in the first distance race of the season. Winning a skate race was a shock, haha.

Over the “off season,” I made a few minor changes to my training. It has been an interesting few years for our Canadian team as we’ve gone through a number of coaches – so each of them brings something slightly different to the table, even if there are similarities philosophically. When compared to last year, my training was actually much more “in line” with what we had planned. Last fall, for example, I got pretty tired and had to take a small break (2+ weeks) from training to recover, but this season we’ve made no such mistakes (so far !), and the training, recovery, etc… has been unfolding as we thought it would.

My form at the moment? Who ever knows, haha. I felt good last weekend. I feel pretty good in training these days, but anything can happen on any given day. I am not overly concerned on the results side of things during these early World Cup races. They are tune ups for me. Of course I’d like to rock the house week in, week out – but again – I cannot control the competition. I try and stay loose, have fun and achieve the small “race goals” I make for myself for every competition.

Our team is in good form though and watch for Alex, and Ivan in the coming weeks. We could have some pretty stellar days (hopefully!).

Did you make any particular changes to your training this summer to prepare for this Olympic season?

Like I stated above, I didn’t make any landmark changes to my training to prepare for the Olympic season. I’ve trained a bit more than in the past – but the increase is ever so slight.

Are you still training hard right now and if so, which WC races will you focus on doing well in and when will you start your taper?

I am still training decently hard at the moment. I did 22 hrs last week (for example) with two races, and one longer interval session (3X8min all uphill @ 15km race pace) – so that was quite a toughy of a week! As far as putting focus on World Cup racing, I am looking forward to Rogla (the 30km mass start classic) and of course – The Tour de Ski. I really love that event (the Tour), and although I’ve had some really bad luck in that race with regards to sickness, and I am hoping to shake that once and for all this season!

I will taper down for the Tour de Ski and even now I’ve dropped the training down to 16hr/week (for this week). I usually try and keep the training up around 15 hours/week if I can on the Pre-Christmas World Cups, and if I get a weekend off racing I’ll try and put in a few days of volume. I feel it’s important to do this to stay at a consistent with regards to energy. It’s different for everyone, but in my experience – it seems to work. In the past when I’ve focused, tapered and stressed about early season World Cups, my form (and results) have suffered in March… The plan is to race decently well all year – and race bad ass at the Games in February.

Canada's World Championship relay team: Gray, Babikov, Harvey, Kershaw
Canada's World Championship relay team: Grey, Babikov, Harvey, Kershaw

Will the mens team race in a relay event before the Olympics?

George won’t be coming to Beitostolen (he will join our team in Kuusamo), so although we are racing a relay in a few days (with Graham Nishikawa with Alex, Ivan and I), our last year’s World Champs 5th place team won’t race together until the Olympics.

As far as I know, Beitostolen is the only relay prior to the games, so it’s kind of a yes/no, haha.

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