Whistler, British Columbia – Stefan Kuhn thrilled home fans with a blistering qualification round in the men’s classic sprint. Kuhn was the 10th fastest qualifier, just 3.78 seconds behind Alexander Panzhinskiy (RUS). Kuhn has been on a role lately, at least in the qualification round – he was 7th last week in the Canmore World Cup.
In a tough quarterfinal, he was in strong position throughout much of the the first part of the heat, but slipped back on the last big climb. Heading down the backstretch he appeared out of the running, but on the homestretch, he cranked up the double pole for an impressive charge to the finish. He overtook one skier, and was closing fast on 2nd, before running out of time. His time held up as the lucky loser for several more heats before he was eliminated. He ended the day in a still-impressive 15th.
He was joined in the heats by teammate Devon Kershaw. Kershaw qualified 24th and had a tough draw for the quarters. Matched up with Oeystein Pettersen (NOR), eventual winner Nikita Kriukov (RUS), Cyril Miranda (FRA), and defending Olympic sprint champion Bjorn Lind (SWE), he had his work cut out for him. As usual he put up a good fight, staying in the mix until near the end, and moved up one spot to finish 23rd. The result was the best individual Olympic result of his career.
“I approached the race pretty relaxed,” Kershaw said. “This was going to be a tune-up for me – I am not the best classic sprinter ever.”
He is looking ahead to the next three events,and will be gunning for a medal.
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Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.