February 06, 2013 – Check out this great video of the FIS women’s 4×1.25km team classic sprint in Sochi, where Canada’s Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova snapped up a thrilling bronze medal with an incredible surge in the final leg.
November 28, 2012 – Wow, that sure was an awesome way to start off the World Cup season!!! Not that I expect every weekend to be as wildly exciting with multiple historical US podium results, but geez that was cool. Our Women’s 4x5km relay placed 3rd, which was the first time ever in US History that we’ve had a podium relay finish! Here are two YouTube videos of the race:
I first want to say a big THANK YOU! to everyone for all the kind words, emails, tweets and more that have come flooding in, and a thanks to all those who have been supporting us US Women every step of the way. It sucks that the podium isn’t big enough to put everyone involved onto it, because there’s a whole lot more than four racers that made the day happen. The ENTIRE team includes the teammates cheering, coaches, wax techs, and friends and family and fans back home. So thanks to everyone!
Here’s the race story from the day!
I was super nervous beforehand because with the results from the previous day, it was clear that the team was in shape and ready to rock, and there are only 3 relays this year, so this was our only shot for a while at making our goal of having a team on the podium.
Then, as I was warming up, I saw the racers go by and turned to Matt, a full-blown panic attack seconds away. I’d just seen Liz in second and was like “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” I was hyperventilating. Even though I was trying to convince myself that this was going to be just another 5km skate race, I couldn’t ignore the fact that our team was higher up than we’d ever been and the extremely hard work of my teammates was about to be put into my hands.
In the tag zone, I looked over at Marit and said “No big deal… no pressure… aaaaaagh!” and she gave me a little smile that basically said “Good luck, sweetheart”.
So when Liz tagged me, I might have gone out a little hot. And by might have, I mean that I definitely did. I had so much adrenaline pumping that I didn’t feel anything till the top of the first hill, and then it hit me. I just kept trying to stay within sight of Marit, and I was so focused on keeping every second I could that I wasn’t even aware of team Sweden, Finland and Norway 2 coming in hot behind me.
When Kalla (Sweden) passed me, I tried to hang on but was going full throttle and didn’t want to hit the wall completely halfway through the race, so I had to let her go, which was tough. But when Kristoffersen (Norway 2) passed me, I did hang on, just barely, because I knew I usually have good kick at the end of a race and there was maybe a chance.
Liz and Ida and the rest of the team were screaming from the side of the course, but two things stood out to me. Ida was sprinting alongside me yelling like I’d never heard her yell before, and Liz frantically screamed “C’mon Jess, you have to believe you CAN DO THIS! BELIEVE IT!!!”
So when we got within .5km of the finish, I had this flashback to the last relay I raced, in Nove Mesto, where I waited too long to start sprinting and Kalla beat me to the line. I didn’t want to make the same mistake, and decided to make a move before the s-turn to the stadium, sliding ahead of Kristoffersen right before the first corner.
We rounded the stadium corner and started sprinting down the home stretch, and I saw Kristoffersen’s skis come into view, but the only thing I could think was No. Not. Happening. I can’t screw this up now! I think in those final hundred meters I dug deeper than I have in a long, long time.
I crossed the line only .5 seconds ahead, and made this half-yelling-half-screaming-mostely-I’m-in-so-much-pain-right-now noise, and collapsed. The next 2 minutes I was in a haze but I felt my teammates piled on top of me, and then it sunk in and we all realized what had just happened.
There were cameras going off everywhere, but we were huddled in this little circle, crying and laughing and going through this wild flood of emotions (and probably endorphins too, I’ll admit)!
The feeling we all got, standing on the podium having reached a major goal that we all set down on paper earlier this year, was incredible. For me at least, it makes me want to train hard and work even harder to keep these kinds of feelings coming – there’s two more steps on that podium to climb, after all!
I thought it was so cool that all these athletes from other teams were coming up to us and congratulating us on the day – they were psyched for us! Every one of them remembers what it felt like their first time on the podium so they knew what we were going through when we were all huddled together crying
That night I had such a hard time getting to sleep (gee, I wonder why?) I just kept replaying that final sprint in my mind and hearing Liz and Ida scream “BELIEVE!”. I think I’m going to be hearing that for a while.
February 02, 2012 (Moscow, Russia) – Canada’s Devon Kershaw grabbed a bronze medal in today’s cold and windy World Cup 1.5km Sprint in Moscow after topping the qualifications with superb skiing. Fifth-place qualifier Teodor Peterson (SWE) pulled out all the stops to snap up his first World Cup win, with Anders Gloeersen (NOR) wearing the #10 bib powering to second.
The mostly flat course winds itself around the famous Luzhniki Olympic Stadium in Moscow. A total of eight North Americans advanced to the heats in the men’s and women’s competitions today – read more about the qualifications HERE.
The result marked Kershaw’s second podium in as many weekend’s as he attempted to bring home Canada’s first WCup sprint gold medal. “My goal today was to just get to the front in each heat and I thought that would be the key to winning,” said Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont. in a team release. “My body is shocking me everyday. It was a long cold day, but I felt great again and it was a super solid race today.”
In the quarterfinals, Kershaw handily won his heat, skiing at the front the entire race and pulling away over the second hill for the win. Alex Harvey (CAN) also skied well, finishing second in his heat, with American Andy Newell in fifth. Len Valjas (CAN) was leading his quarterfinal, only to be nipped by Norway’s Eirik Bransdal at the finish as both advanced to the semis.
Kershaw placed a prophetic second to Peterson in the semis, despite sharing the lead with teammate Harvey for most of the distance until Harvey faded to wind up fifth and ended up 9th overall. Fellow Canuck Valjas finished sixth in his semi final and did not advance claiming 12th.
Kershaw looked strong in the final, skiing solidly in third and fourth positions. He made his move on the final hill with a powerful attack, but couldn’t hold off the storming Scandinavians, Peterson and Gloeersen, and had to settle for third.
“You should never be disappointed with a podium at a World Cup, but I am a little disappointed because I really felt like I was going to win,” added Kershaw, who also won a bronze medal last week in the 15-kilometre classic ski race last week in Otepaa, Estonia, his first race since placing fourth overall in the grueling Tour de Ski.
Looking at the big picture Kershaw was philosophical about his back-to-back podiums – one distance, one sprint. “It (these results) is crazy. The body is so good right now and I just always seem to be in that zone when the race is on. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy, but right now I just feel like racing is a sanctuary for me and I feel so present.”
The world’s XC ski powerhouses take to the snow in Rybinsk, Russia this weekend, Feb. 4-5, for the distance races for the next round of FIS World Cup competitions.
January 22, 2012 (Otepaa, Estonia) – It was a great day for Canada’s Devon Kershaw in Otepaa with a bronze medal performance in the men’s 15km classic and yet another podium for the Canadian team in as many days. In fact it was Kershaw’s best-ever distance result in a non-Tour de Ski World Cup commented Justin Wadsworth, Canadian Head Coach.
The Sudbury skier was in the zone and lead at both intermediate splits on the Otepaa course, arguably one of the toughest cross-country ski courses on the circuit. But in the last portion of the race he was overtaken by Lukas Bauer (CZE) who surged near the end, and eventual winner Dario Cologna (SUI).
“I went out really hard today. I went for the win and I don’t regret it,” said Kershaw in a team release. “It has been a hard couple of weeks for me personally and I didn’t know what to expect coming off the Tour. Today I was able to mentally switch off the brain and focus on skiing which felt amazing.”
“The climbs out here are are relentless and punishing. They are so long which we don’t normally ski,” added Kershaw. “The Estonians know how to set up a course to ensure the strongest man wins.”
This was his first weekend of racing since his remarkable fourth overall at the grueling nine-stage Tour de Ski that ended Jan. 8. The team jetted to the Canary Islands for a break after the Tour which may become more popular with WCup skiers given Kershaw’s medal performance today and his teammate, Alex Harvey’s 4th place in the CL sprints yesterday.
Harvey finished 19th for a solid effort and was followed by the USA’s Kris Freeman (USA), the top American in 22nd place – his best distance result so far this season. Noah Hoffman (USA) also had a strong day scoring points and a personal best World Cup classic distance result, with a 26th-place finish (he was 25th in the pursuit in Whistler at the pre-Olympics).
“The race today felt really good. I went out focused on starting under control. The course was incredibly difficult, possibly the hardest I’ve ever raced on, but more than that I didn’t want to repeat my mistakes from the 15km at US Nationals,” Hoffman explained to SkiTrax post-race. “I executed that part of my plan pretty well. I also had great skis and good energy. I was happy with the way things went. I’m looking forward to building on this result for the rest of the season.”
Canada’s Len Valjas crossed the line in 31st just out of the points coming close to his best-ever World Cup finish in a distance event which was 29th in Kuusamo.
With today’s result Kershaw is now 5th overall in the World Cup ranking while Harvey sits eighth overall. Harvey was impressed with his teammate’s skiing saying, “Just so everybody knows Devon Kershaw is the man. Third place in Otepaa but special mention for gutsiest skiing!”
For Kershaw his stellar day didn’t quite erase his disappointment at placing fourth at the Tour de Ski but he’s stoked with the Canadian team’s overall performance season
“Finishing fourth has been tough to take and it was at the Tour. It is heartbreaking, but that is the thing about cross-country skiing – there is always more,” said Kershaw. “The biggest factor for me is that I’m now feeling much stronger and more comfortable every race because of the people I’m surrounded by on our team.
“We have had an athlete in the top-five at every World Cup stop this year, which I think is a credit to the athletes we have on this team, and the support from our wax techs and coaches. Mentally it is so good for me.”
January 16, 2012 (Milan, Italy) – Canada’s Perianne Jones and Chandra Crawford won bronze in the women’s 6×1.4km team sprint FIS WCup in Milan on Sunday – their first-ever medal together and Jones’ first time on the WCup podium.
The moment was made even more special by the fact that Jones and Crawford had the honour of sharing the limelight with their American friends, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, who grabbed the silver medal – a North American first.
But their medal was not a given however, as a crash in the semis by Jones put their spot in the finals in jeopardy. Ten teams of two skiers made it to the final, including the Canuck duo, who worked efficiently together in their exchanges and skied excellently to earn their podium spot.
“This feels great. Today our whole goal was to relax, stay on our feet and kick when it counts,” said 28-year-old Crawford. “It is dynamite to be on the podium with Peri. We are a real team out here and want each other to succeed and it is awesome to share this with her.”
Last season in Dusseldorf Crawford landed on the podium in the team sprint with teammate Daria Gaiazova taking home the bronze. In Saturday’s individual sprint Crawford was 7th and her bronze in Milan on Sunday was her second WCup medal this season, after she won silver in the individual freestyle sprint in Rogla, Slovenia in December.
Jones was 12th in the individual sprint matching her career-best finish on the World Cup earned in Stockholm, Sweden last season. Her first visit to a WCup podium is a dream come true for the Almonte, Ont. skier and SkiTrax caught up with Jones after the team sprint event:
You lead off today – how was the start?
Perianne Jones: The first lap was totally crazy, I crashed in our semi-final, so I was just trying to stay out of trouble and read the rest of the people around me to make sure that didn’t happen again. There were lots of broken poles, and crashing everywhere, but we stayed out of trouble.
Is this is your first Team Sprint with Chandra – what kind of prep did you do?
PJ: Chandra and I have teamed up a few times in Dusseldorf, so this wasn’t our first time racing together, but we just practiced our tags a few times, and chatted briefly, but we have total confidence in each other after training so many hours side by side, so we didn’t talk much just went out and did our thing.
How were your skis today and conditions on the track?
PJ: Skis were amazing today, our techs are the best. The track held up really well too, so it was super fast.
Talk about the congestion on the Milan course and your exchanges.
PJ: We totally nailed the exchanges today, in the semifinal we figured out what worked, and we stayed with it through the final, and were always making up places in the exchanges.
You’ve been making steady solid gains with your skiing – what are you doing differently?
PJ: Nothing drastically different, just building on the fitness I have and being able to handle more training.
This is your first-ever WCup podium – how special is it for you?
PJ: It feels pretty great to hit the podium, it’s been a goal for a long time, and it’s also great to share it with Chandra. We have been teammates for a long time, since we were juniors…and being up there with Kikkan and Jessie was a real bonus.
All the best Peri – we are really proud of you guys.