The high hopes for today’s final stage of the Ruka Triple, in Kuusamo, Finland failed to materialize for the Canadian National Team, as they were unable to place anyone in scoring position. The Canadian men fell short of their expectations with Ivan Babikov, a traditionally strong distance skate skier, giving the team it’s best result in the 15k pursuit, with 37th place overall.
The remainder of the Canadian squad finished further back in the field of 102 skiers, with Alex Harvey in 43rd, Devon Kershaw in 66th, and Jesse Cockney in 87th. Len Valjas did not start today’s race.
Canadian Head Coach, Justin Wadsworth, expressed disappointment in the results. “It didn’t go well. Everyone’s not happy with it, but it is what it is,” he said in a phone interview with FasterSkier.
Wadsworth cited a week of heavy training at altitude in addition to a lack of racing as an explanation for the poor results in today’s pursuit.
“Other teams raced last weekend. So when you race you have lighter training going into it, and then you have the races, and then you recover a little bit,” he said. “We just trained all last weekend and all this week. We flew up here Wednesday night up from Davos, and this was our first race weekend of the year and we got what we got.”
Despite today’s disappointment, Wadsworth is focused on the team’s plan for the rest of the season. “It’s always tough to stomach, but we knew what we were getting, coming in and having this being our first race off of altitude. It’s just what it was, and I’m not personally too bothered by it,” he said. “It would have, of course, been nice to race better. We’re just going to move on and hopefully there will be better races in the future.”
Looking forward, the Canadian squad looks to recover before next week’s World Cup races in Lillehammer. The Canadians tend to produce decent results following Kuusamo and hope the trend will continue. “We came in pretty loaded, so now it’s a little bit of rest and two races next weekend,” said Wadsworth. “We traditionally rebound after Kussamo pretty well. After three good, hard races here and then some recovery after that, and a little light intensity mid-week, hopefully the legs will feel a little more rested then they did today.”
Dasha Gaiazova, the lone Canadian woman to race in Kuusamo did not start the final pursuit. She was slated to wear bib 87 2:35 back.
Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.