It may be early in the season, but the top 10’s are already rolling in for the Canadian team.
In the 15 k individual start freestyle race in Bruksvallarna, Sweden, on Sunday, Canada’s Devon Kershaw broke up the home team’s party, placing fourth behind Marcus Hellner, Johan Olsson and Daniel Rickardsson – three of the four members of Sweden’s Olympic gold medal 4×10 k relay team.
Kershaw was 45 seconds back of Hellner, but just 10 seconds off of the podium, as Hellner bested his Swedish team mates by a full 30 seconds. Meanwhile, Kershaw’s teammate Alex Harvey finished fifth, 1:13 off of Hellner’s pace, gaining a measure of redemption after being forced out of yesterday’s sprint due to a crash in front of him.
“Good/hard 15k skate today. Felt a little tired from the week of training but happy with the result,” Harvey wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, other Canadians in action were Brent McMurtry (43rd), Fred Touchette (46th) and Stefan Kuhn (57th).
Phil Widmer was listed as a DNS – however, in an interview yesterday, head Coach Justin Wadsworth assured FasterSkier that Widmer, along with fellow sprinter Lenny Valjas, would not be racing today.
The other top 10 finish was by Dasha Gaiazova, in the women’s 10 k individual freestyle, as she finished ninth, 1:20 down on Charlotte Kalla (SWE). Kalla left the field in the dust, as the gap to surprise second place finisher Maria Rydqvist (SWE) was 50 seconds.
Rydqvist, a relative unknown who didn’t even race on the World Cup last season, squeezed out Anna Haag (SWE) by a slim .4 second margin for second place.
Gaiazova’s placing gives the Canadians five top 10 finishes in the two days of racing in Sweden – Kershaw and Valjas were third and fourth respectively in Saturday’s sprint – and the team will carry that success into the World Cup opener next weekend, in Gallivare, Sweden.
The only other Canadian female overseas, Chandra Crawford, did not race, as she is preparing for domestic European sprint races next weekend in Rovaniemi, Finland.