Performance of the Year
This year we expanded the Performance of the Year Award to include three different categories – cross-country, biathlon, and nordic combined.
XC Performance of the Year (men):
This season featured a number of outstanding performances, and for the first time we breaking out the award into three categories – cross-country, nordic combined, and biathlon. The challenge, like in many of the other awards, is how to weigh Olympic results.
The Olympics are the most prestigious event in skiing, and the biggest stage. So regardless of field strength, weather, or other incidentals, an Olympic result is worth more than anything else.
Deveon Kershaw (CAN). Kershaw’s performance in the Olympic 50km event was one for the ages. Racing in front of a home crowd, Kershaw put himself in position to sprint for a medal, he came up just short crossing the line just meters, and all of 1.6 seconds, behind gold medal winner Petter Northug (NOR). Kershaw was outlunged by Tobias Angerer (GER) for 4th.
The result matched Ivan Babikov’s 5th in the Olympic pursuit as the best Olympic result ever by a Canadian man.
Ivan Babikov (CAN). As mentioned above, Babikov finished 5th in the 30km Olympic pursuit, just 9.1 seconds out of the win and 6.3 seconds from a medal. This was the second time in the Games that Babikov set a new Canadian mark for best male Olympic result.
Kershaw gets the nod only because he was a bit closer to a medal. Babikov fell off the pace at the end, and was not in contention for a medal in the final sprint.
Canadian Men’s Olympic Team. The team had a stellar Olympics. In the pursuit, led by Babikov’s 5th, they placed 5, 8,9, and 16. Babikov was also 8th in the 15km, and Gray 18th in the 50k.
And the Team Sprint duo of Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw placed 4th in that event. While no medals were won, it was by far the greatest Olympics ever for the Canadian men.
Andy Newell (USA). Newell placed 3rd in the World Cup classic sprint in Drammen, Norway, an impressive feat considering that classic sprint events in Norway are without doubt the toughest fields on the circuit.
Kris Freeman (USA). In a nation with a dearth of World Cup distance skiers, Freeman’s 4th in the Kuusamo 15km stands out. Freeman just missed his first World Cup podium by just 2.2 seconds, and again demonstrated that when he is on, and has his blood sugar dialed in, he can compete with anyone.
XC Performance of the Year (women):
Unlike the men’s award, the women’s version is easy – at least in relation to the skier. The issue, is what performance was the best.
Kikkan Randall (USA) was easily the top North American woman this season, and she had a number of impressive performances. She had an excellent Olympics, with great results in every even she started, and she finished on the podium in the pre World Championship World Cup in Oslo.
Kikkan Randall (USA). Randall’s podium performance in Oslo gets the nod. She was leading entering the homestretch, and while she was unable to hold off a red hot Marit Bjoergen (NOR), Randall’s performance shows she is still one of the best skate sprinters out there. This bodes well for World Championships.
Kikkan Randall (USA). Randall’s 8th place in the Olympic classic sprint was a career-best in that event, and set a new mark for top finish ever by an American woman xc skier in the Olympics, bettering her own marl set in 2006.
Kikkan Randall (USA) and Caitlin Compton (USA). Randall and Compton teamed up to finish 6th in the Olympic Team Sprint, turning in a gutsy performance.
Sara Renner (CAN). Renner thrilled the hometown crowd with a surprising 3rd place finish in the World Cup classic sprint in Canmore just prior to the Olympics. This was Renner’s first World Cup podium since 2006, and demonstrated that she still had the sprint speed to compete in the finals.
Biathlon Performance of the Year (men):
Tim Burke (USA). Burke climbed onto the World Cup podium for the first time this season, finishing 2nd twice and 3rd once. His 2nd place finish in the 20km individual in Ostersund, Sweden, gets the nod as the top biathlon performance of the year.
Burke finished 35.5 seconds behind winner and eventual overall World Cup winner, Emil Svendsen of Norway. The race, early in the season, was the first of the three podium results for Burke, and catapulted him to a new level – from a very good biathlete capable of skiing in the top-10, to a legitimate threat to win races, and a strong medal contender in Vancouver.
Jean Philippe LeGuellec (CAN). LeGuelle had an excellent Olympics, capped by a 6th place finish in the sprint event. LeGuellec actually led the race after the 1st shooting stage. While this competition was unusual due to a mid-race snow storm, LeGuellec still just 33.7 seconds behind overall World Cup winner and multiple Olympic medalist Emil Svendsen (NOR) who took 2nd.
Jeremy Teela (USA). Teela placed a season-best 9th in the same Olympic sprint event.
Biathlon Performance of the Year (women):
Zina Kocher (CAN). Kocher finished an impressive 4th in the women’s 10km pursuit in Pokljuka, Slovenia. She was 23 seconds off the podium, and the only woman in the entire race to shoot clean.
Lanny Barnes (USA). Barnes turned in the best North American Olympic biathlon performance in the 15km individual, placing 23rd. The veteran Barnes was her usual sure-shot on the range, cleaning the 20 targets. After the final shooting stage she was ranked 16th.
Nordic Combined Performance of the Year
In a season that included World Cup victories and four Olympic medals, picking the top performance is not easy. But gold trumps all else.
Billy Demong (USA). Demong became the first American to win a championship gold medal in any of the Nordic sports when he captured the top spot in the large hill competition at the 2010 Olympics. Demong and teammate Johnny Spillane worked together to hunt down Austrian Bernhard Gruber before Demong used a powerful attack on the final climb to open up a gap for the win.
Johnny Spillane (USA). Spillane finished 2nd to Demong in the large hill event at the Olympics, following Demong’s attack with one of his own while laying claim to his third medal of the Games.
Johnny Spillane (USA). In the normal hill competition, Spillane also finished 2nd, losing out to Jason Lamy Chapuis (FRA) in the final sprint.
Brett Camerota (USA). Camerota, the least experienced member of the US team in the Olympic Team Compeition, did his job and then some. Camerota moved the US into first, and most importantly, did let any of the other top teams to completely close the gap.
Kikkan Randall (USA)
Alex Harvey (CAN)
Kikkan Randall (USA)
Andy Newell (USA)
Thursday, April 15 – Rookie of the Year
Friday, April 16 – Collegiate Skier of the Year
Monday, April 19 – Adaptive Skier of the Year
Tuesday, April 20 – Continental Skier of the Year
Wednesday, April 21 – Biathlete of the Year
Thursday, April 22 – Nordic Combined Skier of the Year
Friday, April 23 – Performance of the Year (cross-country, biathlon, nordic combined)
Monday, April 26th – Cross-Country Skier of the Year