In today’s final Kershaw surprised Russia’s Nikolay Morilov at the line with a powerful move in the closing metres of the race to seal the victory and make it three out of four podiums in as many races – two of them gold.
Kershaw, 29, now a wily veteran of the World Cup circuit, put on a sprint tactics clinic today, winning each of his heats through a combination of patience, agility, and perfectly timed attacks. In every heat, including the final, Kershaw skied patiently at the back until darting through traffic near the end to take the win.
In the final it looked like the Canuck was headed for a silver medal until Morilov, who was leading in the final metres, pulled up slightly to celebrate what he thought was a victory. Unaware of Kershaw’s finishing rocket pace, Morilov was already pumping his fist in victory when Kershaw stole the gold medal with a superb lunge at the line. Instantly aware of his mistake, a visibly angry Morilov ripped his glasses off and threw them to the ground in frustration. Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad took third.
With today’s win Kershaw solidifies his grip on third place in the World Cup overall standings with 1,053 points, stretching his lead to 157 points over fourth place Marcus Hellner of Sweden, who failed to qualify today. With 2nd-placed Petter Northug (NOR) sitting out this weekend’s World Cup to prepare for the Vasaloppet, Kershaw has moved to within 146 points of the Norwegian star who has 1,199 points. “I will try my best to catch Petter Northug in the overall ranking,” added Kershaw.
Among the other North Americans racing today, Canada’s Alex Harvey qualified 19th but did not make it beyond the quarters. Harvey crashed on the final turn before the stadium as he attempted to set himself up for the final sprint and finished 6th in his quarterfinal heat to end the day in 27th.
Four other North American men raced today but failed to make it to the heats including Canada’s Phil Widmer (35th) and Len Valjas (43rd), and the USA’s Tad Elliott (53rd) and Sylvan Ellefson (57th).
This weekend’s World Cup event in Szklarska Poreba continues with a 15km classic distance race on Saturday. Fans will remember that Kershaw won his first distance gold recently in the 15km CL in Nove Mesto, CZE.
Men’s qualification results HERE.
Men’s final results HERE.