Tag Archive | "Devon Kershaw"

Blog Roundup w/Brooks, Stephen, The Hoff, and Kershaw

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July 04, 2013 – Catch up with Holly Brooks, who is celebrating her Fourth of July differently this year. Plus, Liz Stephen looks back on the recent Western REG Camp, Noah Hoffman reveals his secret desire to be a track runner, and Devon Kershaw checks in from Canmore.

Holly Brooks
Hard Decisions, Obvious Decisions
This upcoming July 4th will be spent entirely different than my last couple. For the past four years I’ve raced Mt. Marathon in Seward, Alaska. Mount Marathon – they claim, is the Nation’s second oldest foot race behind the Boston Marathon and this year will be the 86th running.

It’s a tradition for Alaskans on Independence Day and the small town of Seward swells from 3,000 people to 30,000 thousand overnight. While only 500 or so people actually compete in the race, the rest crowd main street eating ice cream, socializing, and watching the race unfold. For those unfamiliar with the format, the race starts on main street, runs 3,022 feet directly up a mountain, rounds a rock at the top and descends 3,022 feet.

Read more here.

Liz Stephen
This week was full of excitement with the Regional Elite Group (REG) camp in town. This is a group that each region of the US has, and they get together for a training camp each summer. From these camps, USSA picks some athletes to come to the National Elite Group (NEG) Camp. It was really great to have these awesome athletes in town to train with and get to know some of the up and coming athletes that will represent our next generation of US skiers. Read more here.

Noah Hoffman
Track Workout
I secretly want to be a 5,000 and 10,000 meter runner. Every year my coach allows me to do one track workout to indulge my fantasies but also probably to remind me that I am not even close to fast enough to be a runner. Today was that workout. On Thursday morning I’m running a 5 kilometer road race here in Park City, so today was a little tune-up for that race. It may be my only running race of the year. My coach allowed me to plan today’s workout based on pace instead of heart rate, the same way a runner plans his workouts. Unfortunately I am full of myself and thought I could run faster than I can. Read more here.

Devon Kershaw
Kicking Back Here in Canmore, It’s Raining, I Can Be a Bit “Hippiesh”
It’s here – “monsoon-June” has rubbed its wet, stinky glove right in Canmore’s face and the rollerski boots and wet pavement are ubiquitous reminders that the Rockies “wet season” is upon us yet again. I thought perhaps Lenny’s calming influence would have had an effect – but apparently not.

As you can probably tell, I’m reaching a little for material this week. That’s a good thing. It’s been a lot of “normal Canmore living” here these last seven days. Aside from some wet training (and only “some” – for the most part it’s been fantastic weather-wise actually since I’ve been back from Bend/Tremblant/Toronto), life is ticking along in a standard way. Read more here.

Cross Country Canada’s Inside Edge Episode 8 – 2013-14 Early Season Testing

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May 31, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – We are excited to bring you Cross Country Canada’s “Inside Edge” video series. With action, interviews, strategy and much more, Inside Edge gives you unprecedented access to our National Ski Team as it takes on the world’s best.

In this eighth episode of The Inside Edge, we take an inside look into Senior World Cup Team early season testing on the roller ski treadmill. Athletes Devon Kershaw, Perianne Jones, Ivan Babikov and Len Valjas talk about their goals for the season ahead.

Thanks to our partners at Twin Zebra Productions. More episodes coming soon! To view Episodes 1-8 click HERE.

The Inside Edge Episode 8: 2013-14 Early Season Testing

Kershaw Report – Spring 2013

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April 22, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – The 2012/13 racing season is now long over. The snow, clinging desperately to the mountains, rocks and trees, is in deep discussions, begging to let go, turn to water, spurring the “actual” beginning of next season – one of growth, new beginnings and if you are me – debilitating allergies: spring.

Spring is losing here in Canmore as of now. Snowstorms still blow through the valley and the ski touring is still light’s out delicious in the ranges behind the Bow Valley. But winter is waging a losing battle and while all good things come to an end – so too will the snowy peaks, cold temperatures and well, winter.

Speaking of winter – it’s no secret that I envisioned last season going better. I was coming off a career best season in 2011/12. Those feelings of winning World Cups, finishing 2nd overall and 2nd in the distance cup were definitely fresh in the mind. Throughout the training season I was feeling stronger, fitter and faster physically for months on end – even though emotionally I could have been categorized easily by any high school girl within 30 seconds of hanging out with me as “a total mess.” I can admit it. Still though – I was sure that this year I was going to be able to take that next, last little step needed after the strong foundation laid in 2011/12.

Instead, back in November I took a little step in the wrong direction – on a stronger concrete foundation in the shape of stairs – and tore a ligament in my foot. Not the best move only a week out from the season opener. I let myself get the better of myself – if you follow that – and instead of taking a step back and recovering fully I pushed on – taping it, getting therapy, icing it and wishing with all my energy that it’d heal magically.

It didn’t and for the first 8 weeks of the racing season I had plenty of reminders that sometimes no amount of wishing and hoping can combat reality. I kept it within the team and asked that the team not discuss it publically. I guess I was just so motivated and hungry to have a good season, that if people started talking about it – it would get more real. It’s hard to explain if you aren’t an athlete and maybe you don’t understand, but I felt as though if I was racing – even if it hurt – then it wasn’t a huge deal….

As the winter rolled on, the results remained disappointing. I had some glimmers of “ok” feelings – a few top tens, 12th overall at the Tour de Ski, 4th at the World Championships with Alex in the team sprint – but on the whole I just wasn’t feeling myself. Gone were the weekends of winning and on the podium. Coupled with the torn ligament, I contracted some rough food poisoning in France that reoccurred three more times from mid January to late February which wasn’t a barrel of laughs either.

These aren’t excuses – I know that I made some mistakes in my training season, we made some mistakes with regards to my race calendar, and some other smaller ones along the way, too, that seemed to have a bigger impact that we thought. I take full responsibility for that – but it wasn’t the best to having health issues on top of that. At this level, it’s a precarious place to hang out – between success and failure. Everything needs to come together and sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned or wanted them to for whatever reason.

The last month of the season continued to be tough. I had some more stomach issues early at the World Championships – which translated into one race where I felt good (the team sprint with Alex). After the World Championships – the spring World Cup was a rough period for our team too – as we just weren’t able to deliver the results and good feelings that we’d become accustomed to when the World Cup heads back to Scandinavia in the spring.

Looking back, it’s amazing that we had the success we had at the World Championships at all – which I think speaks volumes of our team as a whole (staff, athletes, techs, everyone). Alex won a historic bronze in classic sprint – traditionally one of his weakest events. Babs was 4th in the 15km skate, and Alex and I finished agonizingly close to the bronze – 4th – in the team sprint.

Now it’s time to inject some positivity – the cool and simply reality of spring is that things melt and start growing again. Those feelings of disappointment are melting away – we’ve had great discussions about what we did, what we can do better, and what we’ll do moving forward and I’m 100% confident that we still have a great team and new plan moving forward.

I was pretty tired emotionally/mentally upon arriving in Canada and I’ve spent most of my time in the mountains back country skiing – healing the mind and letting go of all the disappointment. I’ve got out 14 days of the last 20, which has been both fantastic and rejuvenating. For me, in the spring time there’s nothing better than backcountry skiing – you are way back in some mountain range with just you and your buddies, no internet, phone, nothing – it’s simplicity at it’s best and it’s amazing.

Up next in the two-pronged “get ready to rock and roll” is the “real” rest – as I’m off to Maui tomorrow to check in on Lenny’s tan – kidding! It’ll be awesome to get some vitamin D, eat some delicious fish and tropical fruit, get completely thrashed in the waves and vibe out. I know that after that I’ll be 100% ready to go for the Olympic training year. Hard to believe that this quadrennial came and went so quickly. I have some unfinished business there after finishing 4th and 5th in the last Games in Vancouver – so this year will be about simplifying things, training well, making good decisions and enjoying it.

We’ll learn, adjust and attack going forward. My good friend and Canadian sports psych’ extraordinaire likes to quote Andre Agassi’s “I can live with disappointment, but I can’t live with regret.” Damn right. I was disappointed with how the season went – no question. But I don’t regret it. I did what I thought was best at the time – it ended up being wrong. I made mistakes, I’m learning from them, and I’m fired up moving forward.

Lao Tzu wrote, “Succeeding is the coming together of all things beautiful and perseverance is the foundation of all actions.” I couldn’t agree more.

Enjoy your spring everyone and thanks for the support!


Interview w/Canadian Men’s XC Team Coach Justin Wadsworth in Falun

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March 25, 2013 (Falun, Sweden) – SkiTrax caught up with Canadian Men’s XC Team Coach Justin Wadsworth after the FIS World Cup finale in Falun, Sweden this past weekend to get his take on the 2012/13 season, the highs and lows, and what the squad will do differently next year to get the team back on their game.

While many teams would love to have Canada’s record this season with half-a-dozen podiums and the first ever individual medal by a Canadian man at the World Championships courtesy of Alex Harvey, the Canucks were striving for more following an astounding 14 medals last season.

Things did not go as planned this season admitted Wadsworth, but he is positive the team will turn things around in the upcoming Olympic year – when it really counts.

For a quick 2012/13 season Canadian team medal recap: Len Valjas scored two medals this season, including a bronze in the Sprint FR in Val Mustair (SUI) and silver in the 15km CL Mass start in Val di Fiemme (ITA), both during the Tour de Ski. Alex Harvey finished right behind Valjas in the latter race to share the podium with his teammate winning the bronze.

At the end of the TdS, Ivan Babikov scored the silver in the final 9km FR Pursuit stage up Alpe Cermis (ITA). Babikov was also the top NA skier in the overall WCup in 20th (Devon Kershaw was second overall last year while Harvey was 6th).  Then Harvey came around again near the end of the season to be the first ever Canadian man to win an individual World Championship medal when he placed third in the classic sprint in Val di Fiemme (ITA).

On the women’s side, the highlight was when Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova scored third in the team sprint at the Sochi World Cup (RUS).

Interview w/Justin Wadsworth

Canada’s Babikov Just Off Podium in 15km FR as Northug Wins First Gold of Nordic World Championships

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February 27, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – Norwegian Petter Northug set a devastating pace out of the start in the 15km individual start and created a gap large enough to hold on to his first gold of the 2013 FIS Nordic World Championships. At the 6.8km mark he was more than 23 seconds up on the silver medalist, Sweden’s Johan Olsson. While Olsson was faster than Northug over the final kilometers of the course, it wasn’t enough to take the title from the Norweigan great, and he had to settle for the second spot on the podium.

Canada’s Ivan Babikov hung on to Alexander Legkov (RUS), who skied the first half of the 15km slow enough for Babikov to catch up, but the Russian picked up the pace in the final stages of the race allowing Babikov a great slipstream.

Yet the Canadian bulldog was just pushed out of the medals by the aviator-sunglass-wearing Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR). Gjerdalen, who is the alternate for the Norwegian relay team, tied his best-ever individual result at the World Championships as he won bronze in the 50km in Oslo in 2011.

“It isn’t a medal, but I’m pretty happy for sure,” said Babikov, who has enjoyed the best season of his career – crediting his strong results to a new training program set out by himself and Canadian head coach Justin Wadsworth last summer. His performance is the best result by a Canadian male in the 15 kilometre individual start skate-ski race at Worlds.

“I have not been feeling great last week, and was pretty down after the pursuit. To get my body and legs back is really good. Our team worked amazingly well today. My skis were awesome, and it was really important for my confidence to have this race today.”

American Noah Hoffman also had an incredible day in 15th. Hoffman went out slow, and picked his way through the ranks on each subsequent split time.

“My plan was to go out under control. I was able to do that today. I felt very under control in the 40s at 1.8k which was exactly where I wanted to be,” said Hoffman. “Late in the race I got on (Lukas) Bauer. I was struggling to stay with him but he was a good ride for me. With a lap to go I was 20th and following him I moved up to 15th.

Other North Americans included Devon Kershaw in 33rd, Tad Elliot in 34th, Graham Nishikawa in 39th, and Erik Bjornsen in 48th.

Full results HERE.

Kershaw Report – Tour de Ski 2012

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January 17, 2013 – The 2012/13 Tour de Ski is over and remains in all our rearview mirrors. There were Canadian highlights abound during his year’s German and Italian odyssey – the major ones being Ivan’s career-best 7th overall, Lenny Valjas’s two podiums, Alex’s podium and 4 top 6 results and last but not least – the bulldog’s absolute annihilation of Alpe Cermis  – where he posted the 2nd fastest climb up that nasty, nasty slope.

It was a great completion for Canada, yet I must say my own Tour de Ski was a disappointment. Ok, a big disappointment. It was a good thing that Ivan, Lenny and Alex threw down because my body was no help – as it just wasn’t recovered and ready for such an arduous event. While there were a couple glimmers of “ok-ness” during the week – for the most part I was missing that top gear needed to compete atop the results page.

After a nice 9 days in Switzerland over the holidays, it was off to the Tour and first up was the fog engulfed hilltop village of Oberhof. While the weather is some of the worst I experience every year, traditionally I love the courses and race well through the grey half-light. Not wanting to disappoint, Oberhof stayed true to its reputation and was pretty warm and foggier than San Francisco’s “June Gloom” by a factor of 7. The snow barely held up for the first few races under the German grey – with some sections of the 3.75km loop showing some black pavement during the 15km classic!

The races this season in Germany though did not go well. After a great intensity workout a few days before the Tour – the first in awhile – I was hopeful that the Tour would start well. It didn’t. The prologue was more of the same – I’d start controlled and then have no gear to switch into for the last kick to the line. The 15km classic (pursuit start) the following day felt like Groundhog Day – as the feelings in the body were the same – feeling great until I didn’t – struggling home and losing oodles of time in the last lap of that 4-lap race to finish in 27th. Conditions were tough – soft and slushy snow – which are usually favorite classic conditions of mine, but this season my legs felt like they were as stiff and had more weights attached to them than a whole group of tanned geriatrics working out on a Miami Beach boardwalk.

After a small turn-around in feelings and celebrating the MAN Lenny Valjas’ 4th career World Cup podium on New Year’s Day on the tough sprint in Val Mustair, Switzerland (Len was 3rd, I ended up 15th), it was off to Italy for the last 4 stages in a row in Toblach and Val di Fiemme.

If you would have told me that my best race feelings of the year to date after the Tour was over would be in the 35km loppet style skate race from Cortina-Toblach and up the fabled climb of Alpe Cermis, I would have laughed myself silly. But that’s how things ended up. The two classic races that I was most fired up for ended up being super disappointing (the 5km classic in Toblach and the 15km in Val di Fiemme), whereas in the two “special” skate races I ended up feeling “ok and ok ++” in. Especially the climb – which is usually the site of the annual “epically ugly/slow monkey skating filled with the hollow eyes and slobber beard that any golden retriever in a cheese factory would be proud of.”

I ended the Tour in 12th overall.  All things considered, I’m surprised I ended up there. Most days I felt drained and it was a difficult set of races mentally – as I was so hopeful and trying to stay in that positive “maybe today I’ll be back feeling good!” for the duration. I moved up for the first time ever on the climb – which was the personal racing highlight – from 18th to 12th.

While I was left wanting more and disappointed – the Tour was so exciting everyday for Canada. Lenny snagged two podiums – 0.1seconds away from his first ever World Cup victory in the 15km classic in Val di Fiemme, Babs was a total boss all around and blitzed the climb to move from 17th – 7th snaking the 2nd fast time on that beast in the process for his second World Cup podium – and Alex was a few centimeters behind Len in the exciting 15km to finish 3rd (we had two on the podium and Babs had a career-best classic race in 7th!!) and like I said up top – had four races in the top 6. It was a Tour for the ages again and the stoke is uber-high for us Canadian Nordies. The women are getting in on the action too and I’m psyched for Dasha’s 4th in Liberec a few days ago and for Peri’s career-best 9th in the same race. Momentum for the team is building, as the days get longer. Good news with the 2013 World Champs only 5 weeks away under the Italian sun. The “team behind the team” – our absolutely bad-ass/awesome staff are killing it this year too. The techs (Micke, Yves, Joel, Joel, Sacha, and Timo) were lights-out good during the tour (and every race so far this year!!), Anne (Osteo), Wolfman (need’s no introduction…) and Justin (the only coach on the ground at the Tour) were on their A ++ game, so huge thanks to them for their hard work and unwavering passion.

After the Tour, I fled to… Norway! I know right? Lenny went to the beaches of Egypt to recharge, Alex joined his girlfriend in Nice, France and I headed up to Scandinavia – I guess I missed the shorter days, brown cheese and waffles. There must have been a good reason right? Well there was – I really enjoyed spending time with Kristin who was coming off a boss 3rd place overall Tour de Ski finish and there was nowhere else I’d rather be. We hung out in Oslo for a couple days enjoying some great times with her crew there and then headed up to Sjusjoen for some quiet days at her cabin. It’s a beautiful spot and while the week went by far too fast – I had a great time and feel like my body did a decent job recovering from the stress and beat-down that the Tour does to a racer.

I’m now in France, in the small mountain village of Praz de Lys – which is about 45min from this weekend’s races in La Clusaz. I had never been here before, but I swear every year for the past 5 all Dasha can say when the question of “where should we go train in-between races?” comes up is an enthusiastic “Praz de Lys!” about 19 times in a row. Well Dasha, you were right. The skiing here is some of the best I’ve ever done. It’s unreal – gorgeous views of Mt. Blanc, meters of snow, and tons of perfectly groomed trails to enjoy daily with mountain views at every angle. Aside from Seisser Alm, Italy, it’s the best skiing I’ve had in Europe. I must say that seeing all the back country skiing happening leaves me with a sore neck (looking up the whole time!) but other than that – paradise.

I’m looking forward to this weekend to get some racing action in before another two weeks of World Champs prep/training “sans racing” before we head to Sochi to scope next year’s Olympic trails and scene.

Other than dreaming of ripping the surrounding powder – I’m listening to some older stuff these days – Wilco is on heavy rotation, as is the Shins, Kishi Bashi, and this band called “Say Hi.” (Formerly “Say hi to your mom”). I’ve also been spinning a lot of old school blues actually – some BB King (Live at the Regal), Muddy Waters (Hard Again/I’m Ready), and John Lee Hooker – eclectic I know. Reading-wise, I’ve been cruising through a Brent McMurty recommendation “the Leap” by Chris Turner (great book man!). The Globe and Mail’s review of it HERE.

On the Team Canada Bus – Interviews w/Babikov, Kershaw, Valjas, Harvey and Wadsworth

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January 07, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – As the 2012/13 FIS Tour de Ski wrapped up on Sunday with the grueling handicap-style Alpe Cermis hill climb it was time for goodbyes until next time as teams dispersed and some were on the road soon after. We caught with the Canadians on their magic bus en route to Munich to get their final take on a very strong Tour.

Ivan Babikov, who won this stage in 2009, finished a fantastic second place to take seventh overall in this season’s TdS nailing a personal best along with the top Canadian result this year. Devon Kershaw posted a personal best 13th place on the Stage 7 ascent up Cermis to secure a respectable 12th overall in the Tour, followed by TdS rookie Len Valjas in 23rd on the day and 23rd overall. Alex Harvey was forced to abandon the Tour to protect his left leg, which was operated on in 2008, but scored a podium and showed his form is getting stronger. And finally we chatted with Head Coach Justin Wadsworth for his take on the Canucks at the Tour and beyond aka relay…

Ivan Babikov
– 7th overall

Devon Kershaw – 12th overall

Len Valjas – 23rd overall

Alex Harvey

Justin Wadsworth

Inside the Fence – Canmore Course Preview w/USA’s Bjornsen, Interviews w/Kershaw, Wadsworth and More

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December 13, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Check out the latest edition of  FIS’s Inside the Fence – the Canmore preview. Follow the USA’s Sadie Bjornsen for a lap around the women’s 3.3km classic course, and watch interviews with Vibeke Skofterud, Kristen Stoermer Steira, Devon Kershaw and Justin Wadsworth.

Alberta FIS World Cups – Canmore SET to Welcome the World from Dec. 13-16

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December 12, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – In only a matter of hours the FIS World Cup will roll into a town, into a place steeped in Nordic history. Canmore, the host of the cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games will play host to three exciting days of cross-country skiing competition.

We talked with OC President Ken Hewitt to get an idea about what’s ahead. “At the earlier World Cup’s (2005, 2008) our focus was the “on-snow” aspects of a World Cup such as good tracks, proper stadium, good snow, team accommodations, transportation and communications etc. As we have learned to get those aspects to a reliable state, we have worked to enhance the “off-snow” aspects – the World Cup Festival, spectator experiences, and marketing.

“World Cup 2012 will have a significantly enhanced spectator experience with a new “Spectator Zone” at the end of the stadium, more and larger video displays, in-field entertainment, and improved signage. Also… the Town of Canmore has laid on an impressive “Nordic Festival” to accompany the World Cup — the downtown area will be literally ablaze with activities, and with many specials specifically for World Cup athletes,” Hewitt said in a recent interview.

We asked him about the Quebec World Cups and its impact and he said, “We are seeing that a majority of racers coming to Canmore are sprinters – probably because both of the first two races in Canmore (in Québec) are sprints.

Logistically, there are challenges getting athletes, equipment, timing gear and marketing materials from Québec to Canmore in three days – it’s over 3,300 km,” he said.

As always is the case many volunteers play a major role in making it all happen, “The Competition Committee and Organizing Committee consists of about 45 people. These are the ones who have been working on this event for the past year. We have a dozen contractors in specific roles, and 2 staff. Most important however, are the 470 volunteers who will be working both the race events and the downtown activities,” Hewiit concluded.

Canadian Head Coach Justin Wadsworth told SkiTrax what it’s like competing on-home snows saying “It’s always tough to balance these home World Cups with all the extraneous stuff that goes down, but I believe the athletes will come with better bodies this week, and will fight for some podiums. It’s a new sprint course, so that should be interesting, and one that should suit our team well. Other than that we’re bloody but unbowed,” said Wadsworth.

Checking in with USA Coach Chris Grover he offered his hopes for the Canmore events. “In Canmore, we are expecting the women’s team to continue to carry the momentum that they created all fall,” the Alaska native said, “and we are looking for the men’s squad to make a step forward and realize the kind of results that these guys are capable of.”

Andy Newell said, “… I was happy to be back in the finals in Quebec so I’ll definitely be carrying a little more confidence into the next few races in Canmore. Both my sprint fitness and speed are feeling really good right now so I’m looking forward to getting more chances at racing through the heats. I will also be doing the mass start classic race on Thursday. My distance fitness has improved a lot this year but I haven’t really had a chance to perform at my best in any distance races yet this season so it’s a bit of an unknown. But I’ll give it my best shot on these tough Canmore courses and hopefully come out with a good points race.”

Canmore will be utilizing a new sprint course, 1.3 km in length, and it will be challenging, according to many. The World Cup events are non-ticketed, and shuttle buses will be used to transport fans to the venue as there is no public parking on site.

Hewitt indeed was optimistic about the Canadian squad at Canmore, offering, ” We know already that the majority of racers will be “top 30″ in the world, so the competition will be tough. That said, we also clearly anticipate Canadians on the podium.”

It looks like a series of races that will be too good to miss.

Alberta FIS World Cup 2012 Schedule
– Dec. 13, 2012     10 km C Mst     L
– Dec. 13, 2012     15 km C Mst     M
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Qual     L
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Final     L
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Qual     M
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Final     M
– Dec. 16, 2012            Skiathlon 7.5/7.5 km C/F     L
– Dec. 16, 2012     Skiathlon 15/15 km C/F     M

FIS Interview w/Kershaw – All About Canmore

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December 12, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Two-time Olympian and World Champion, Devon Kershaw of Canmore, gives us a heads up on what to see, eat, and do while in Canmore, AB, this week during the FIS World Cup stop.

Kershaw continued his historic run in 2012 when he became the first Canadian male to finish second overall on the World Cup circuit. Kershaw’s incredible season included winning two World Cup races in addition to adding another silver and three bronze medals to his career total. Devon also finished fourth overall on the 2012 Tour de Ski. Devon first skied his name into the history books in 2011 with teammate, Alex Harvey, as the Canadian duo joined forces to become the first Canadian males to win a medal at the World Championships when they won gold in the team sprint race in Oslo, Norway.

You were born in Sudbury, Ontario and moved to Canmore, Alberta when you were selected to the National Ski Team. For how many years now have your called Canmore home?
Devon Kershaw: I’ve called Canmore home (full time) for ten years.

Outside of Canmore being the centre for Cross Country Canada, what else draws you to the area?
DK: The Bow Valley is a just such an inspiring area. Great little community, amazing trails that snake through the region offering so many great running/hiking/mountain biking options, excellent rollerskiing and the mountains never cease to amaze me. The Rockies are insanely beautiful – I could just sit there and stare for hours and hours.

If I am a visitor to Canmore during the World Cups, besides the racing what is one thing that is a must see?
DK: That’s such a hard question – I think everything is so fantastic. Just walking along the Bow River and looking around at all those fantastic peaks is enough! Nature is definitely the big draw in the area. As far as a “must see” for Canmore… Hummm… I actually cannot narrow it down to just one. My advice is get out there and get active. Go for a hike, a ski, or even just a walk!

Best place for breakfast?
DK: Summit Cafe – the Huevos Rancheros won’t disappoint. I promise you that. And if you are feeling extra hungry and/or are planning a massive day of activity and want to treat yourself – walk next door (to Fergie’s bakery/convenience store) and grab a “Fergie’s Apple Fritter” – it’s madness.

Best place for lunch?
DK: This is going to be funny – but I’d say Crazyweed Kitchen (that’s going to be my pick for dinner too though, haha). So if you want to change it up, hit up Mara’s Way Sushi, JK Bakery, or Le Fournil Bakery (the croissants and pain au chocolat are fantastic).

Best place for dinner?
DK: Crazyweed. Hands down.

Best place for a burger and beer?
DK: I guess most people would say the Grizzly Paw. It’s the local brew pub in town. I’m not a big burger/beer dude, but any of the pubs offer similar “pub fare” burger/beer options. The Drake, The Wood, type thing.

Best souvenir shop?
DK: Haha. No idea. Not much of a knick knack dude. There are some great art galleries downtown (like the Aven’s gallery) – so your best bet is to just walk down Main Street and poke your head into whatever shop looks interesting.

What other activities are possible besides cross country skiing?
DK: There are plenty of things to do in Canmore – we have a lot of stellar restaurants and cafes around. A couple outdoor hockey rinks to play some shinny (pick up hockey) if you’re so inclined. A short drive away there are a number of great Alpine Ski areas (Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Nakiska, Mt. Norquay) at your disposal as well. If you want to check out another beautiful and historic town in the Bow Valley – Banff is just 18km away (West on Highway 1) – and offers a whole different experience. Just walking and exploring both towns (Banff/Canmore) and taking in the amazing views – it’s hard to beat. The best adventures are the ones not planned – so my advice is just let your curious nature take over!

Best place for sushi in town?
DK: Chef Studio Japan.

Thanks Devon and good luck racing at home!
DK: Thanks

Kershaw Report: November Scando Racing Madness

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December 06, 2012 (St. Ferreol les Neiges, QC) – It’s December. I almost had to tell myself out loud of that fact this morning when I rollerskied through the ice and grime that covered the streets of St. Ferreol les Neiges hugging the tarmac like the hair on my upper lip this past November. I guess I also had to remind myself of the month – because it’s a rarity these days that I’m back in Canada during the winter months.

November is always a busy month – lots of racing, lots of travel all coupled with very little sunlight and culinary disaster. I’ve already raced three weeks this season, two of which were the first two World Cup stops of the 2012/13 year. I’ll take a moment to fill you in on the happenings of Northern Scandinavia – with some brief race reports from the opening weekends of racing this November.

Also – big thanks to all that donated to “Movember” and “the Snow Mos” this year – together we can make a difference in men’s health. In that spirit get a load of these two beauty shots of Lenny – bringing his Mo to the next level.
Ostersund/Bruksvallarna, SWE

It may sound like I’ve written this report before – and that’s probably because I have last year. The past few years our team begins our winter campaign smack in the middle of Sweden. In a slight plot twist, I traveled to Oslo November 2nd for a fabulous week in the Norwegian capital before meeting the team in the Jämtland capital of Ostersund for our annual pre-season on snow Euro camp.

Like last year, there was no natural snow, and my first ski in Sweden was an uninspiring burn around a 2.5min loop. The dizziness subsided every couple days as the loop gradually improved thanks to a wonderful group of passionate volunteers and staff of the Ostersund Ski Club – as they spread out the saved snow from last winter (like what Canmore does now with their “Frozen Thunder” project) to prepare the trails for the World Cup of biathlon season openers that take place there. By the time we left Ostersund they had 4km of great skiing available.

On the training side of things, November is a busy month – not only with racing but also with hours. To be ready and keep consistent in the meat of the season (January, February, March) we’ve realized that I need to log a decent amount of miles – short loops or not – so I trained quite hard both in Ostersund, and afterwards.

The “actual” racing season started over in Bruksvallarna (the site of the Swedish FIS openers – a 3hr drive West of Ostersund) and conditions there were fairly decent with thin natural snow cover, longer skiing options (for training), and great snow cover on the race courses – which are twisty with no real huge climbs or working sections. Think – ghetto amusement park rollercoaster.

After some discussion, Justin and I decided to compete only in the 15km skate (what I did last year) and like last year I was brutal finishing a disappointing 10th – blowing up fiercely in the last 3km of the course, where I gave up a whopping 50 seconds. Racing is hard – super hard – but at this time of year, it appears I struggle to digest the heavy load of training I’m under, leaving me feeling flat for some weeks. I guess it was a better outing than last November – when I finished outside the top 30 – but I was both exhausted physically at the end (the last tuck down the last hill made a bit of a buzz on Swedish blogs for my unorthodox tucking technique (think: hands on knees with straight legs trying as hard as I can to not just fall over) and obviously disappointed with the result.

Gallivare, SWE – World Cup Opener
While Ostersund can be grey and windy – the town itself is great and the giant/beautiful lake (5th largest in Sweden apparently) is stunning. It’s actually a beautiful little city all around with great little cafés, nice walking streets – a cool place to hang out. Gallivare by contrast is…well… different. For starters it’s dark. I mean, hella’ dark this time of year – the sky brightens for some hours between the hours of 10:30 – 13:30, but aside from that it’s like what I’d imagine living in a freezer would feel like. Sometimes there’s some light (when someone opens the freezer drawer), but for the most part in the late autumn it’s black and cold. The town itself is of course smaller, doesn’t have a lot going on – but that’s fine seeing how we are there for the specific purpose of ski racing – and it does have a great little café downtown with stellar espresso.

One thing Gallivare does have this time of year is natural snow, great skiing, and very enthusiastic volunteers and fans that love to cheer on their local hero, World and Olympic Champ – Marcus Hellner – who has lived there for roughly 10 years.

The weekend of racing got of to a bit of a rough start. The 15km skate on the Saturday wasn’t great. While I didn’t blow up – I was never able to get going – stuck in that threshold type speed. I started controlled, but I wasn’t able to convert later in the race (when I needed to change gears and start charging for the last 5km) finishing a distant 44th. Of course, I was pretty disappointed – but the beginning of each season seems to be a lesson in patience for me. Last season I was 37th in the same race (in Sjusoen, NOR), and the season before (in Gallivare), I ended up in the 50s – 58th I think. A far cry from the podiums I expect later in the year.

The bright spots of the weekend was Babs’ 16th place finish Saturday, and Sunday’s 4×7.5km relay. I skied the 2nd (a classic leg) leg and the feelings were much better. I still felt I lacked that punch/snappy feeling but better I moved well and made up some ground for our team. When it was all said and done, our team made some history with a Canadian World Cup best finish – 5th! We were only seconds from the podium and it gave us all a lot of confidence for the World Championships later this year. If we are all in good form, I really believe that we are capable of something really special.

The Ruka-Triple (mini-tour) – Kuusamo, FIN (2nd stop on the World Cup)
After Gallivare we all crammed into vans and rolled East into Finland – driving the 6 odd hours south(kind of)east through grey skies and hordes of reindeer that seem completely indifferent to traffic – like they are props in a Santa Claus parade instead of wild animals and have been told not to move for anything or anybody.

The Ruka triple consists of 3 races in 3 days – a classic sprint first (1.4km – on the Friday), followed by a 10km skate (Saturday) and finishing it off with a pursuit start 15km classic (Sunday) – the best cumulative time takes the win (like the Tour de Ski type format).

Day 1 was awful for the Canadian men. Ooohhhhh lordy, was it rough – I liken the speed to attempting to swimming through a pool of full-fat eggnog. No Canadian men qualified for the top 30, and I ended up a dismal 62nd place. Not where I wanted to be. I felt like there was just no power whatsoever in the body – especially in double pole. The bright spot was that Peri matched her best-ever result on the World Cup with a 12th place finish and Dasha with a solid 14th in the women’s race.

The following day – the 10km skate – was very similar to Gallivare’s 15km. I felt like I was stuck in zone 3. I started conservatively and when I willed my body to turn it over – again, there was no gears to switch into. I ended up 35th – again, not where I wanted to be. I was actually really, really disappointed with that one. I didn’t even check results when I finished and finished my cool down – instead I just ate lunch quickly and crawled into bed for a nap. It was a huge effort (the race), and I knew the velocity was too slow. I was so bummed out – and broke my “no being bummed out when you get back to the hotel from the race site” rule.

After an hour of sulking at a pretty extreme level, I re-focused on getting ready for the last day – Sunday’s 15km classic. After two not-so-great races I started further back in the order – 36th – compared to what I’m used to (in Falun last year by contrast in a similar style mini-tour I started the last day sitting 3rd…) and in the race itself worked through the field slowly but surely – finishing in 22nd overall. I moved up 14 places and had the 16th fastest time on the day – which was a solid step in the right direction. Again, the body felt heavy and again I lacked the power/snap and on the climbs (Kuusamo’s courses are notoriously steep and long) I felt terrible, but I stayed present as best I could and willed everything out of my body I could muster. Finally all our men were in the points (the top 30) with me finishing 22nd, Alex 23rd and Babs’ 25th in the overall standings. It’s coming.

The feelings I had for the first three weekends of racing are almost identical to how I felt last year – as are the results in those races. It seems the pre-Christmas races are a true lesson in patience and perspective. I know I’ve done a plethora of high quality work this year and I believe in our plan to be 100% ready to rock and roll come late February/March – but as a competitor it’s hard to unplug, be patient, stay positive and be good to yourself (ie. not beat yourself up too badly) when the results aren’t where you want them to be. Like a hockey player that grips his stick too hard – his once loose hands turning instead to concrete – it’s hard not to press and do what you know you need to do – mainly to “let go” knowing that as long as you give your full and absolute best effort race in, race out – the outcome will most definitely only get better.

I didn’t have a ton of time to dwell on November, as after the race on Sunday we flew to Helsinki to spend a (very) short night there in an airport hotel before we began the long journey back to Quebec on Monday – which is where I am right now.

It feels great to be back in Canada and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to race at home. I’m hanging out at Alex’s house (with Lenny staying here as well) in MSA, and while there is no snow on the ground, the vibe is awesome. We had such a great dinner last night when we arrived (thanks Alex’s awesome GF – Sophie!), and to be in a comfortable home instead of a hotel is a really nice change. Watching Monday Night Football last night was a pretty nice perk too I must say.

We don’t have a whole lot of time to enjoy “normal” life as this Friday the Quebec World Cups begin in the province’s capital. First up is the team sprint, which Alex and I are really looking forward to – followed by Saturday’s 1.7km individual sprint competition. While my body has been feeling sluggish and lacking power/snap which are both so necessary for sprint racing, I know that things can change fast. Regardless how the results end up – I’m so excited to race in Quebec and it’s hard to believe it’s the first time the province has held a World Cup competition. It’s going to be an amazing show and the support and passion in the province for cross country skiing is far and away the best in the country – so to race in front of so many fired up fans will be exhilarating.

That’s the long-winded news from me. As for now, I think I’ll retire to the couch with a glass of egg nog, watch a ski movie and then prepare an amazingly boss dinner of fresh halibut & scallops (Len will stick to steak) before hitting up a (hopefully) long, restful sleep.

On a completely non-ski related topic…

November I crushed three decent books – here’s what went down this month:

–       “1982” by Jian Ghomeshi. I thought the family history sections were great and entertaining. The word “David Bowie” was perhaps printed a thousand or so too many times, but enjoyable none-the-less. If you aren’t familiar with Jian’s CBC radio program “Q” – it’s worth checking out. Plus – 1982 was the best year ever. Just saying (thanks mom and dad).

–       “Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet” by Jamie Ford. A story dealing with relationships during the Japanese internment of World War Two in Seattle. Pretty moving story, ok-written. A bit far fetched, and kind of a Romeo/Juliet thing going on (if you’ve read it you’ll understand that loose link) but it’s a novel after all.

–       “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay. Another WW2 story – dealing with the Holocaust and the Vel’ D’hiv round-up in Paris in 1942. Again – I enjoyed it, I found it powerful, sad at times and again – decently written.

–       In addition to the books, I’m still on a diet of a New Yorker a week. Standard awesomely written articles – great for traveling.

Spinning in the headphones is the same tunes as normal. Back to listening to a lot of Wilco, Rural Alberta Advantage, Band of Horses, Shins, Radical Face, etc… I don’t know what it is about N. Scando – but I crush depressing music up there. As well, “This American Life” and “Planet Money” – both NPR podcasts that are always both entertaining and well done.

On the movie front – while I don’t watch many movies, shows, etc… very often on the road – preferring to scratch away very poorly on my guitar I lug around, read and listen to music – we have watched some of the latest ski movies released this autumn. We’ve gone through “Superheroes of Stoke, The Dream Factory and a Norwegian film “Being There (which I thought was really well done!)” and re-watching last year’s “All.I.Can” so far. Perhaps a little dangerous so early in the racing season – as I’m getting fired up for spring ski touring already – which probably isn’t the best seeing how December just begun, but what can you do. The powder will be there come April (at least that’s what I tell myself to fall asleep at night).

Rock and roll – if you’re in the Quebec City area come on out and watch the action Friday and Saturday (check HERE for all the info) and if you are in Canmore from December 13th – 16th (assuming the world won’t end of course the day before…) come on up to the Nordic Centre and watch. I mean, you won’t find a better World Cup venue on earth – their website for all the deets’ is HERE.

The Sasseville Report – Things I Think I Know after Ruka

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December 05, 2012 – The World Cup passed through its second stop of the season at Ruka, which is just outside of Kuusamo in Finland, this past weekend and this is what I think I know after the three races that took place there:

– Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug are the best skiers in the world right now. Bjoergen dominated winning all three races and is undefeated on the season in the World Cup. This comes on the heels of some talk in the Norwegian press that she was losing a step after having been beaten in some early season races. Northug did not win any of the races on the weekend – he was 2nd in the sprints to Russian Nikolai Kriukov and 2nd again to another Russian, Alexandr Legkov in the 10 km but he won the overall sprint at the end of the third race from another Russian, Maxim Vylegzhanin. He is now leading the World Cup overall.

– The Russian team is ramping it up in preparation for the Olympics in Sochi in 2014. In addition to the above mentioned men’s results they had 5 men finish in the top 10 overall at the end of the three days and that did not include their sprinters like Kriukov. The Russian women’s team is also getting better and better with Julia Tchekaleva 3rd in the 5km and Evgenia Shapovalova 2nd and Anastasia Dotsenko 3rd in the sprints.

– Justina Kowaczyk (POL) is still the 2nd best female skier in the world. She is starting to round into form after a very hard summer and fall of training and she finished 2nd to Bjoergen overall at the end of the weekend. She will be a force in the Tour de Ski after Xmas for sure.

– Kikkan Randall is the real deal in distance racing with a second podium finish in the 5km. It is interesting that she is doing better in distance than in sprints so far this season. She will challenge Bjoergen, Kowalczyk and Terese Johaug of Norway for the overall World Cup this year.

– The rest of the American women are also the real deal. Ida Sargeant had a career best 9th in the sprints and joins Kikkan, Holly Brooks, Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins to make up one of the strongest women’s teams in the world right now. They should do very well in the Canadian World Cups over the next two weeks.

– Perianne Jones (12th)and Dasha Gaiasova (14th) had great sprint races but continue to struggle in distance races. Chandra Crawford is struggling everywhere and needs to get it together quickly if she is going to race well at home in Canada.

– Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey are starting to come out of their funk. Both had decent results over the weekend but it is nothing like how they finished the year last year. The pressure is on to perform in Canada, especially for Harvey in his hometown this weekend in Quebec City. I wonder what they will do?

– Noah Hoffman is starting to shine. As a junior he had a great engine but poor technique but it seems that he is starting to put it all together. Last year he was a medalist at the World U23 games and his 19th place in the 10km and 26th place overall shows big improvement over last year. The other men on the US team are still back in the pack and need to pick it up soon.

– Many of the top skiers will not be coming to Canada for the World Cups. Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug stated after the races in Ruka that they would not attend. The Finnish team will only send 5 sprinters to Quebec City, but will send more to the distance races in Canmore including Aino-Kaisa Saarinen. This means that there will be more World Cup points available for North American skiers, as the fields will be diluted.

– Having World Cups in Canada is also a great opportunity for younger, less experienced North American skiers to show what they can do against the best. Careers can be jump started by having a great race over the next two weeks. These are the skiers that I will be watching closely. Now is the time for them to get on the “escalator” that will take them to Sochi in 2014. By skiing well now they will get more opportunities to ski at this level later on in the year which will give them more chances to qualify for their National Teams and for their Olympic Teams. It will be very hard for skiers who are not on the escalator now to make it to Sochi next year.

– All of the Canadian races will be shown on either CBC or Bold over the next three weeks. Consult your local listings for time and dates and set your PVR – there is going to be some great racing!

FIS XC WCup Men’s 1.4k CL in Kuusamo – Kriukov Scores, USA’s Hamilton 26th

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November 30, 2012 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Vancouver 2010 Olympic CL sprint gold medalist Nikita Kriukov (RUS) won the 1.4km CL sprint in Kuusamo today, scooping favourite Petter Northug (NOR) at the finish by a mere double pole. Northug had been in the lead after throwing down a strong attack on the climb with only Kriukov able to maintain contact. Kriukov used a last-second surge to take the victory – see pics below.

Emil Joensson (NOR) was the fastest qualifier, but suffered an unfortunate crash in the semifinals and was out. The USA’s Simeon Hamilton was the top North American finisher in 26th, qualifying 29th.

He appeared strong in the first half of his semifinal, but faded at the end. Things went similarly for Andy Newell (USA), who wound up 29th. No Canadians made it past the qualifiers including World Cup #1 Dario Cologna (Sui).

Alex Harvey (CAN) finished the day in 46th, with Len Valjas (CAN) 53rd, Devon Kershaw (CAN) 62nd, Kris Freeman (USA) 63rd, Sylvan Ellefson (USA) 74th, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 85th, Noah Hoffman 86th, and Kevin Sandau (CAN) 98th.


Men’s Qualifying HERE.
Men’s Final HERE.

The Sasseville Report – Gällivare and the Start of the Racing Season

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November 29, 2012 – So here we are – at the start of another World Cup racing season with the first races in the north of Sweden in Gällivare. Last season, when there were no Olympics or World Championships races on the schedule, the races on the World Cup were the most important contests of the season and no one was really peaking for any big event, other than the Tour de Ski.

But this season, many racers are taking a different approach to their training with the Nordic World Championships in Val di Fiemme in February. By focusing on peaking for these championships, many skiers plan to train hard right through the first races of the season before Christmas. As a result, you will see that some of the top skiers do not have very good results during November and December. The other side effect is that many of the top skiers will not travel to Canada for the World Cups before the holidays, preferring to stay at home where they can train more and have less fatigue from travelling.

This could be seen in the individual race in Gällivare in the results of some of the top racers – most notably Dario Cologna (Sui), Justyna Kowalczyk (Pol) and even, I think, in the results of Canada’s Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey. Cologna was 19th, Kowalczyk was 27th, Harvey was 36th and Kershaw was 44th in the freestyle races.

But it doesn’t matter what the racing program is, or whether you are peaking or not if you are as strong as Marit Bjoergen (Nor). She and her Norwegian country woman, Therese Johaug, finished 1st and 2nd, followed by American Kikkan Randall in 3rd. Bjoergen won the first race last year, too.

Randall was on the podium for the first time in a distance race – a sign that she is continuing to improve over her stunning season last year where she won the Sprint Cup and was 5th overall in the World Cup. Randall, who has been walking around in an air cast most of this summer and fall due to a stress reaction in the bones of her foot, must be relieved that this injury has not affected her results.

Her teammate, Holly Brooks, has also kicked it up a notch or two, finishing 5th. Brooks, who is on the US B Team and is primarily self-funded, started well last year too, but a wrist injury slowed her down at the end of the year.

The American women were the talk of the XC skiing world on Sunday when they finished on the podium for the first time ever in a World Cup relay, taking 3rd. As well as Randall and Brooks, Jessie Diggins and Liz Stephen skied great relay legs to nip the 2nd Norwegian team finishing behind Norway 1 and Sweden 1.

The Canadian women’s team results were disappointing for everyone on the weekend with a best in the individual race of 61st by Dasha Gaiazova and a relay finish of 14th out of 18 teams. Three of the four women – Gaiazova, Chandra Crawford, and Perianne Jones, are primarily sprinters, so the hope is that their results will be better in the sprint that is scheduled in Kuusamo, Finland this coming weekend.

In the men’s individual race, the surprise winner was 28-year-old Martin Sundby of Norway. This was his first World Cup win, but he did win all three races at the Norwegian Championships last winter and was on the podium at two World Cups last winter at the end of the year.

Sundby finished ahead of another surprising skier, Alexei Poltoranen of Kazakhstan, and Marcus Hellner of Sweden. Perennial favourite, Petter Northug was 7th. Poltoranen has a history of doing well in the early season races and I think that Northug likely falls into the group of skiers who are training very hard right now for big races later.

It was nice to see Canada’s Ivan Babikov finishing 14th in this race. Babikov has had a couple of slow years since Vancouver, but he has re-dedicated himself to training hard and it is showing. Kris Freemen had the best US team result at 33rd and I am sure that he is looking forward to going to Kuusamo this week where he has had great results in the past.

In the men’s relay the Canadian men finished a terrific 5th just 3 seconds from 2nd place. Norway, anchored by Northug won the race followed by Sweden and Russia who out-sprinted the Swiss and Canada for the podium.

There has been a change in the format of the men’s relay races on the World Cup level now as they have gone from 4x10km races to 4×7.5 km to make it more exciting for the fans and shorter for TV. This shorter distance will not change the results but it will get the races to the finishing sprint sooner.

Len Valjas made his World Cup debut this season in the first leg of the relay and met his goal of finishing within 20 seconds of the top skiers. Valjas skied with a cast on his hand after breaking a knuckle and should be very happy with his result.

The American men were a disappointing 15th out of 22 teams. There is a strange parallel between the US men and the Canadian women and the US women and the Canadian men. It will be interesting to watch if this changes over the winter.

So now it is off to Kuusamo in Finland for the next leg of the World Cup. There will be a 3-race mini-tour for the men and women including a sprint race, an individual start race and a pursuit race.

From there the World Cup comes to Canada for races in Quebec City on December 7 and 8 and in Canmore on December 13, 15 and 16. I am fortunate to be involved again in the broadcast of all of these races on CBC and Bold. All of the races will be telecast so check your local listings for viewing times.

Canadian Skiers Participate in Movember

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November 06, 2012 – On November 1, men across the country shaved their faces in preparation for Movember, a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health. Canadian XC skiers are participating in the event and Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Gord Jewett, Kevin Sandau, and Ivan Babikov are among the nine-man Sno Mos squad. Check out their team page HERE.

Frozen Thunder Classic Highlights Video

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November 01, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Check out this great compilation of video highlights from the weekend’s Frozen Thunder Classic in Canmore. The video features Canadian and U.S. national team members as they test themselves on “Frozen Thunder”, a course built from snow preserved from the previous winter at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Report and photos from the event HERE.

WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic from Twin Zebra on Vimeo.

Devon Kershaw Summits Mt. Ventoux on Rollerskis

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May 08, 2012 – Canadian XC ski sensation, Devon Kershaw, recently tweeted a photo of himself at the summit of the 1,912m Mont Ventoux of Tour de France cycling fame. It was not aboard a bicycle that he climbed to the top of the peak via its 21 switchbacks, but with rollerskis. Check out the cool image HERE.

Devon Kershaw Wins First Annual Auclair “Team Spirit” Award

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April 19, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Representatives from long-time Cross Country Canada sponsor Auclair Gloves joined members of the National Ski Team in Mont Sainte-Anne for a dinner, product consultation and awards ceremony during last month’s Haywood Ski Nationals. Auclair, the exclusive glove supplier to the National Ski Team for the last 30 years, was pleased to meet with Canada’s top skiers to discuss product feedback and work on refinements to the company’s high performance glove line in advance of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Auclair President Peter Monk was on hand to present the first annual Auclair Team Spirit Award to Canadian National Team skier Devon Kershaw. Freshly returned from completing his 2011/12 World Cup campaign and finishing as the 2nd ranked skier in the overall FIS World Cup, Kershaw was thrilled to receive the honour which is presented to the National Team athlete who best represents the qualities of team spirit with which Auclair proudly associates itself. “It’s a real honour to receive this award and it couldn’t be more fitting than to come from Peter and his team at Auclair,” commented Kershaw. “They have been a key part of our team for over 30 years and we are excited to be here this evening working hand-in-hand with them to make sure we have the optimal gloves on our hands as we continue our drive toward the podium in Sochi 2014.”

Auclair is the premium sport and outdoor division of Paris Glove of Canada Ltd., one of the oldest and most respected glove companies in North America. In addition to its 30+ year relationship with Canada’s National Cross-Country Ski Team, the company is also the official supplier to practically every Canadian team on snow and ice including Alpine, Snowboarding, Freestyle, Speed Skating, Bobsled, Luge, Nordic Combined, Biathlon, Telemark and Speed Skiing.

The Way I See It – US and Canadian Women’s Relay Teams

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February 14, 2012 – US Best – Sunday’s relay effort by the US women has to be one of the top racing days in the history of Women’s Cross Country skiing in the US – if not the top day. It opened a huge gateway into the future. There were many reasons for this relay to be a bomb of the year rather than an effort that would have everyone over here cheering in their offices, breakfast nooks, cars, and where ever they were watching this effort on their computers.

For starters Kikkan Randall, the team’s best skier, sat out another race. On top of that the four ladies on the team had skied a very hard 15km CL WC the day before, Holly Brooks (the starter) is still wearing her wrist splint (now and then) and doesn’t have a bunch of races under her belt the last few weeks and didn’t finish the classic race the day before. Ida, the 4th lady in the pecking order, was replacing Kikkan the leader – BUT – on race day they came to the start line dressed in their striped USA red, white and blue socks over their uniforms and painted red and blue USA’s on their faces to lay down four of the best performances in their careers landing the best-ever USA relay result – 5th place.

Not only missing 4th place by a second, but being less then a minute behind Norway who won – that is something to talk about. QUESTION: What does the future hold – it’s exciting for everyone – and kudos to the coaches and the skiers for their dedication to having such an aggressive approach to building the relay team’s going forward – here we come Sochi! They now have quality and depth in taking this direction that they decided on in the summer months. Sounds like a plan!

Now North of The Border – You have just the opposite direction being taken by the Ladies program in Canada. As I wrote last week the women never made it to Rybinsk and now moving forward (or backward) from there only Perianne [Jones] was in Nove Mesto, while Chandra had to go home for a family emergency and Dasha, the lone member of the newly formed “senior team”, was in Seefeld with her boyfriend for training and an Austrian Alps holiday. It’s been two weeks and only one of the three ladies has raced once in that period – not an international scope in focus that I can see.

Here are some of the numbers that will show you the disparity between the US and the Candian women’s program when it comes to racing starts from the beginning of the season in Sjusjoen, Norway to Nove Mesto, CZE.

Canadian Ladies:
– Dasha – 15 races
– Perianne – 17
– Chandra – 17 (emergency trip home)

US Ladies:
– Jessie – 24
– Kikkan – 35
– Holly – 34 (broken wrist)
– Liz – 33
– Ida – 25
– Sadie – 19 (off the circuit a couple of weeks ago)

I don’t place the blame on the Canadian girls, but on the coaching staff, mainly [Justin] Wadsworth and [Eric] DeNys as they work with the ladies and chart the course for the year. But mainly it’s the coaches direction and expertise that is counted on here for going in the right direction. You say I’m not being fair, what about the Men’s program? They’ve been pounding the circuit since Sjusjoen in mid-November, so why not the Ladies? It’s a program that is not building towards Sochi.

I can remember watching Devon [Kershaw] fighting his way through season’s 5-6 years ago and getting beaten down but going back for more the next year… and look at him now.

The Canadian Ladies are racing about 1.4 races per week (mostly sprints) which is not enough to be in racing shape. This plan has way too many breaks – the training should have been done in the summer. I think this was the way of the 90s, the old North American way, not the new dedicated “we will be in Europe all winter way” adopted supposedly by both team this year. Sorry Canadian Ladies – you got the short straw this year.

Can any of the Canadian Ladies make it to Falun for the WCup finals…? Not likely – Chandra has a chance, but it is slipping away fast. Time for this program to change gears – real fast.

Talk To You Next Time,

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2011/12 Contest – Standings after Moscow and Rybinsk

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February 09, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – The Viessmann FIS XC World Cup featured a Russian extravaganza last week with an exciting midweek sprint event in Moscow, followed by another World Cup weekend. It was a momentous week for Canada’s Devon Kershaw, who took home bronze in Moscow and GOLD in Rybinsk. Read the stories HERE and HERE.

Siggy’s Speedsters still has a hold on the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2011/12 Contest lead with 1,097 points, but Team daviking has moved from third into a close second with 1092 points, bumping 3LIT3 into third and a mere three points back.

For the complete FIS WCup Fantasy Contest standings after Moscow and Rybinsk click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2011/12 Contest Prizes
* 1st Prize Fischer 11/12 Carbonlite Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd PrizeSkiGo Carbon 780 Roller Skis (value $580)
* 3rd Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $449)
* 4th Prize Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 5th Prize Sporthill XC Pants/Tights and Glacier Top (value $220)
* 6th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 7th Prize – Bliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 8th PrizeRottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $120)
* 9th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreakBuff Headware (value $23) to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski

Thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, SkiGo, Alpina, Bjorn Daehlie Clothing, Sporthill, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Rottefella, Bliz, Concept 2, Auclair, and Buff.

SkiTrax is North America’s leading Nordic skiing publication and the official magazine of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Canada (CCC).

Canada’s Kershaw Podiums Again as Peterson Wins Moscow WCup Men’s 1.5km Free Sprint

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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.

Qualifications HERE.
Final results HERE.

Kershaw Scores Bronze as Cologna Takes Men’s WCup 15km CL in Otepaa

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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.”

Results HERE.
Results detail HERE.
World Cup Overall HERE.


Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw Earn 2011 Canadian Sport Awards

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January 18, 2012 (Ottawa, ON) – The True Sport Foundation today announced the winners of the 39th Canadian Sport Awards, which recognize and honour excellence in Canadian sport including the sporting achievements of Canada’s finest athletes and the contributions of others in 2011.

“The Canadian Sport Awards play an important role in honouring our hard-working athletes, sport leaders, volunteers and corporations for their accomplishments and contributions to Canadian sport in 2011,” noted Peter Leyser, Executive Director, True Sport Foundation. “These winners, along with all finalists and nominees, have earned the praise of all Canadians through their immense talent, ongoing commitment and unwavering dedication to Canadian sport.”

2011 Canadian Sport Awards Winners

The Athletic Performance Awards recognize outstanding athletic performance. Winners include:

– Male Athlete of the Year: Patrick Chan, Figure Skating
– Female Athlete of the Year:
Christine Nesbitt, Speed Skating
– Junior Athlete of the Year:
Alex Harvey, Cross Country Skiing
– Team of the Year:
Jeff Stoughton (skip), Jonathan Mead (3rd), Reid Carruthers (2nd), Steve Gould (lead), Garth Smith (alternate), Curling – Men’s Team
– Partners of the Year:
Alex Harvey & Devon Kershaw, Cross Country Ski, Men’s Team Sprint

The Leadership Awards recognize and celebrate an individual’s outstanding contribution to the betterment of sport:

– Leadership in Sport Award: Tom Quinn|
– Volunteer Achievement Award:
Judith Tutty
– Athlete Leadership Award:
Michael Smith

The Corporate Excellence Award recognizes and celebrates a corporation who provides outstanding support to Canadian sport: Forzani Group

The Spirit of Sport Story of the Year category recognizes and celebrates Canadian heroes: Ottawa Senators Women’s Bantam AA hockey team

About the Canadian Sport Awards
Established in 1972, the Canadian Sport Awards brings together leaders from the sporting and corporate communities who represent the pinnacle of commitment and competition: Canadian amateur athletes, coaches, sport leaders and volunteers. The annual awards promote sporting excellence across Canada and remind Canadians how sport lifts the human spirit. It is a tribute to the hard work, dedication and victories of our country’s finest athletes. Managed by the True Sport Foundation, the Canadian Sport Awards boasts a strong relationship with its modern day founding partners, which include AthletesCAN, Canada Games, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, and the Commonwealth Games Association of Canada.  For more information about the Canadian Sport Awards, please visit www.canadiansportawards.ca.

About the True Sport Foundation
The True Sport Foundation is a national charitable organization that promotes values-driven sport.  As a leader in the True Sport Movement, the Foundation is focused on building and enriching communities and the lives of individuals by providing a safe, welcoming, and rewarding environment for all participants, at all levels of sport. The True Sport Foundation is committed to ensuring that sport makes a positive contribution to Canadian society, to our athletes, and to the physical and moral development of Canada’s youth. The Foundation also plays a pivotal role in the Canadian sport system by bringing together leading sport organizations to promote, celebrate and recognize sporting excellence. For more information about the True Sport Foundation, please visit www.truesportfoundation.ca.


For complete nomination rules and guidelines, and more information about the Canadian Sport Awards, please visit www.canadiansportawards.ca.

CBC to Broadcast Tour de Ski Highlights – Jan. 21-22

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January 18, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – Calling all cross country ski racing fans! The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has announced that it will broadcast highlights of the 2012 Tour de Ski this weekend, including Alex Harvey’s silver medal performance in the 8th stage in Val di Fiemme and the final climb up the Alpe Cermis.

The broadcast will feature commentary by Scott Russell and colour analyst Jack Sasseville (SkiTrax columnist) this Saturday, January 21st at 3:00pm ET. Relive the highlights of the race, including Devon Kershaw’s historic 4th place overall finish.

CBC’s broadcast schedule for the Tour de Ski:

CBC TV broadcast schedule:
– Sat. Jan. 21 @ 15:00-17:00 ET LIVE
CBC Sports Championship Cross Country Skiing: Tour de Ski 2012

– Sun. Jan. 22 @ 00:30-02:30 LOCAL
CBC Sports Late Night – Championship Cross Country Skiing: Tour de Ski 2012

cbcsports.ca broadcast schedule:
– Sat. Jan. 21 @ 15:00-17:00 ET LIVE
Championship Cross Country Skiing: Tour de Ski 2012

View the full CBC sports broadcast schedule HERE.

Dusseldorf, Car Races, Christmas and Such…

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January 18, 2012 – My return to the World Cup this season definitely didn’t start off as I had envisioned but it certainly ended on a positive note! After a slightly better but still disappointing sprint day on Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany, I was encouraged by a better feeling body and regrouped for Sunday’s sprint relay.

I teamed up with the towering Lenny Valjas and together we put in a great day of sprint racing. We went into the sprint relay not really knowing what to expect as we had both had disappointing results in the individual sprint qualifier the day before. However, after the qualifying round was finished with, we knew that today would be different.

Len and I posted the third fastest qualifying time of 28 teams and after the disqualification of a German team, ended up being the second ranked qualifiers on the day. Going into the final, our attitude quickly changed.  We started the day with the goal of just making it into the final, now the podium was in our sights. We stuck to our race plan, skiing conservatively, conserving energy and staying out of trouble.

This meant that we were often at or near the back of the pack but as others burned  energy fighting for a position or two, Len and I managed to ski relaxed and then go for it on our final laps. Thanks to an impressive finishing kick from Len, we were able to pass the Austrian team down the final stretch and lock up 5th place, just 4 seconds out of the top spot!

Unfortunately it was too little too late to justify staying on the World Cup circuit so I returned to Canada to pick up the start of the NorAm series in Silver Star. As is often a result of hectic race/travel schedules I came down with a cold the day before the first races in Silver Star and consequently missed that weekend of racing and the following weekend in Rossland. A total bummer but not a whole lot you can do about it! If there was a positive to missing the pre-Christmas NorAms it was that it allowed me to get in some really good training volume over the Holidays in preparation for the second half of the season.  I had a great Christmas at home in Red Deer with family before returning to Canmore for another week of volume consisting of some great days out in Kananaskis. I even managed to sneak out into the backcountry for an awesome day of charging knee deep pow with Brent McMurtry and Phil Widmer.

It’s now a new year and with a lot of racing ahead I’m looking forward to the weeks to come. Hopefully I can get back in the mix and join the race for the NorAm spot on the World Cup this spring!

As a final thought, I’d like to comment on what I’ve seen happening with increasingly extreme weather patterns around the globe.  It’s really concerning to see what can only be explained as the early signs of climate change. It’s not news that humans are having a profound impact on our environment and climate but as I experience the increasing extremes of weather around the globe, it really drives home the fact that we need to be ever more conscious about what we’re doing to our planet.

Whether it’s seeing pouring rain just kilometers from the Artic Circle in late November, hurricane force winds in the City of Calgary or a complete lack of snow around the globe, it’s worrying to think about the impact that this will not only have on the planet but on the sport that I love. This is certainly not a new concept but I really feel like I need to reiterate how important it is to make environmentally conscious decisions every day and continually evaluate how those decisions impact the planet. For a list of the top 10 things you can do to make a difference have a look here: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-you-can-stop-climate-change/

Have a great 2012 everyone!

-Drew Goldsack


“Ugh, I’m soooo tired” –Devon Kershaw, the night before an awesome race.

In the Tape Deck:

Artist: Lana del Rey, Track: Video Games

Artist: Mumford & Sons: Track: Awake My Soul (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London)

Artist: Mumford & Sons: Track: Little Lion Man (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London)

On the Tube:


This blog and others can also be found on www.drewgoldsack.ca!

The Sasseville Report – Milan Sprints and Other Things

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January 16, 2012 – I’ve got to hand it to Juerg Capol and Vegard Ulvang from FIS. They truly have made an effort to bring cross-country skiing to the people of the world. The Tour de Ski with it’s various interesting stages concluding with a climb up a downhill slope is a great example of how they have turned what was once a boring sport to watch into something that is exciting for every kind of fan.

Another example of this is the city sprints like the ones in Milan, Italy, this past weekend. Milan rarely has snow and the Milanese usually have to travel a long way to ski. To bring the best sprinters in the world to this city is brilliant.

What is also brilliant is how well skiers from North American are doing on the World Cup this year. Kikkan Randall, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, and Chandra Crawford have all consistently been at the top of the results list and it has become a pleasure to report on their success this season.

As well, Len Valjas, Ivan Babikov, Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova from Canada as well as Simi Hamilton, Andy Newell, Sadie Bjoernson, Holly Brooks and now Jessie Diggins have also had good races and have scored World Cup points and in some cases have been on the podium.

Every week it seems that someone different from Canada or the US is standing on a podium. The most consistent has been Kikkan Randall who finished 2nd twice in Milan, once on her own in the individual sprint and a second time with young sensation Jessie Diggins in the team sprints.

Diggins had dominated the domestic racing scene in December after a stellar junior career. She is a legitimate talent who has the speed and endurance to be a star on the World Cup.

Chandra Crawford, after a 7th place in the individual sprints, hit the podium again this time with Perianne Jones in the team sprints where they finished right behind the Americans in 3rd. Chandra has been consistently in the top 10 over the past few races and is now a contender in every sprint race.

Len Valjas was the best of the North Americans in the individual sprints finishing in 14th. Simi Hamilton continues to improve finishing in 19th while Andy Newell continued to struggle in heats finishing in 26th after qualifying 8th.

Randall is showing incredible endurance by continuing to race in every World Cup. She has said that she wants to race every one and, barring illness, she will. She continues to lead the Sprint World Cup and sits 4th in the overall World Cup. I have stopped thinking of her as a sprinter. She is now a great overall skier who can succeed in any race.

Kershaw, Harvey and Babikov have taken a much needed rest this week before returning to the World Cup circuit next week in Otepaa, Estonia. There will be classic sprints on Saturday followed by classic individual start distance races on Sunday. The course in Otepaa is one of the hardest in the world and it is one where the best classic skiers and climbers in the world can shine.

This race is another example of how the FIS has created a World Cup circuit for everyone. It appeals to the traditional fan who likes to see an individual start and classic technique race like the old days – 15 years ago!

One last question that I would like to ask all of you – do you think that the Tour de Ski with 8 races over 11 days is as hard as a professional cycling tour that would be the same number of races? Do you think that it is as hard as the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia? And finally what makes it harder or easier?

Cologna Breaks Northug on TdS Queen Stage 7 – Strong Kershaw Still 4th Overall

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January 05, 2012 (Cortina, Italy) – Switzerland’s Dario Cologna pulled away from Petter Northug of Norway on Stage 7, the Tour de Ski’s Queen Stage, a 32km point-to-point freestyle race, breaking his Norwegian rival with a convincing win.

Cologna, who was in a league of his own today, turned what had been a meagre 13.5-second lead into a much more significant gap of one minute and 28 seconds. Skiing alone out front for all but a few minutes of the the race, Cologna stopped the clock at 1:09:25.2.

Canada’s Devon Kershaw, had a strong race as well posting the third fastest time finishing 4th on the day, to retain his 4th place overall position. Kershaw looked smooth and skied much of the day at the front of the chase group of five skiers that formed behind Cologna in the latter half of the gruelling race.

“This is a race I have been thinking about all year for 365 days. I was so nervous last night and this morning it was unreal,” said the 29-year-old Kershaw. “This is probably the best skate-ski race I have ever had.  I couldn’t have imagined to have skied this strong.”

His teammate Alex Harvey, who was skiing with a second chase group, also had a good day, managing to hold onto 9th overall, although he lost a few seconds and is currently at 3:07.8 behind Cologna.

While Northug managed to hold on for second in today’s stage, he struggled early on and is now in a dogfight to stay on the podium at this year’s Tour. Cologna led out today’s handicap-start race with a 13.5-second lead over the Norwegian but Northug charged after him and quickly closed the gap. His push cost him tho’ as his Swiss rival accelerated soon after Northug caught him but the Norwegian could not match Cologna’s pace and quickly faded.

Northug was soon caught by Russia’s Alexander Legkov and the two skied together over the top of the long initial climb at 11.5km. The duo was eventually caught at about the 22km mark by a chase group of three that included Kershaw, Marcus Hellner (SWE), and Maurice Magnificat (FRA).

Entering the stadium just over a minute after Cologna crossed the line, the chase group of five was left to battle for the final two spots on today’s podium and the bonus seconds that came with them. Northug, who had been lurking at the back most of the time, showed off his classic finishing speed and out-sprinted the small pack to the line, followed by Legkov and Kershaw.

Cologna retains his overall lead in the Tour, but gave up time to all of his nearest rivals except Northug. There are now five skiers within a minute and half of Cologna, with two hard and decisive stages to go.

Also having a good day today was the USA’s Kris Freeman, who finished 42nd to moved up to 29th overall at 6:48.3 behind Cologna. Canada’s Ivan Babikov also skied well to move up from 43rd to 35th today and sits 6:56.1 behind the race leader.

Men’s 35km results HERE.
Men’s 35km results detail HERE.
Men’s TdS Overall HERE.

Hop on the Team Canada Bus During TdS 2012

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January 03, 2012 (Toblach, Italy) – Justin Wadsworth, head coach of the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team, along with athletes Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey and Ivan Babikov bring you on the team’s unique bus they are using to aid in rest in recovery while traveling through Germany and Italy as they compete in the ultimate grind of high-performance sport – the Tour de Ski. Modeled after the Tour de France in cycling, the world’s best all-around cross-country ski athletes will compete in nine races in 11 days while traveling to five cities in two countries.

Check it out HERE.

Legkov Victorious at TdS Stage 5 as Cologna Now Leads – Kershaw Top North American in 18th

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January 03, 2012 (Toblach, Italy) – Russia’s Alexander Legkov finally broke through for his first podium of the season, a victory in today’s 5th stage of the Tour de Ski, an individual start 5km classic race in Toblach, Italy. Legkov finished today’s race in 13:49.5. Norway’s Eldar Roenning came in 2nd at 1.7 seconds followed by Dario Cologna (SUI) in third at 2.0 seconds back as he takes over the race lead from Norway’s Petter Northug was a little off the pace today, finishing in 12th.

The Russians were out in force in today’s race and surely nailed the wax or made the best of their zero skis, after placing six men in the top 11. Canada’s Devon Kershaw lead the North American men placing 18th as he finished 24.6 seconds behind Legkov. His teammate Alex Harvey had a bit of an off day, placing 29th at 37.5 seconds back of the leader. Ivan Babikov, who is nursing an injured arm after crashing in the Skiathon on Jan. 1, finished in 72nd place.

It was another tough day for the US team as well, with Simi Hamilton pulling out the Tour prior to today’s race, the victim of a stomach virus, according to Head Coach Chris Grover. The sole remaining US man in the Tour, Kris Freeman, finished 52nd on the day.

Cologna moves into the overall Tour lead after today, while Northug drops to 2nd, followed by Legkov in 3rd. Legkov’s victory today, including a 15-second time bonus for the win, has closed the gap to Northug  to less than 30 seconds, so the Tour is beginning to look more like a three-man race.  Kershaw holds onto 5th place, while Harvey has dropped to 15th overall after today’s disappointing result.

5km CL results HERE.
Tour de Ski Overall HERE.

Canadian Video Highlights and Interviews from Day 1 at the Tour de Ski

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December 30, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Check out this great video courtesy of the Canadian Team during Day 1 of the Tour de Ski, including training clips, action in the wax room, race footage, and post-race interviews with the athletes, including Ivan Babikov and Devon Kershaw.

Kowalczyk and Northug Claim Prologue Victories at Tour de Ski – Harvey 6th and Randall 10th

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December 29, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland staked her claim to the women’s Tour de Ski overall crown with a win in today’s opening 3.1km Prologue stage in Oberhof, Germany. Kowalczyk bested World Cup overall leader, Marit Bjoergen (NOR) by 0.4 seconds over the 2.5km course. Sweden’s Hannah Brodin was third.

Among the American women, Kikkan Randall finished a solid 10th, with teammates Liz Stephen and Holly Brooks (who is suffering with an injured wrist – read more HERE) coming in 37th and 53rd respectively.

Meanwhile, Norway’s Petter Northug backed up his intentions to win the Tour this year with a win in the men’s 4.0km Prologue, beating Tour arch rival Dario Cologna of Switzerland by .7 seconds. France’s Maurice Magnificat finished third.

The Canadian men had an excellent day, with Alex Harvey finishing 6th and Devon Kershaw 12th. Ivan Babikov was further back in 38th position while Andy Newell had the top result for the US squad in 29th place, followed by Simi Hamilton and Kris Freeman in 63rd and 64th respectively.

Full women’s results HERE.
Full men’s results HERE.

Canadian XC Team in Davos – Photos

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December 27, 2011 (Davos, Switzerland) – When the Canadian XC squad was in Davos for the FIS WCup earlier this month, new CCC sponsor One Way organized a photo shoot for the country’s top skiers. Check out the pics and put on your shades for the ones where the team is decked out in their “yellow flash” parkas!

Canadian Men’s Team – Livigno Update Video

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December 05, 2011 (Livigno, Italy) – Canada’s Devon Kershaw just tweeted this entertaining video of the men’s National XC Ski team in Livigno, Italy. Viewers are treated to wine-tasting with Alex Harvey and clips of the team training, all with some great background beats. Check it out.

Peterson and Bjoergen Win Kuusamo Sprints – Career Bests for Randall in 4th and Valjas in 5th

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November 25, 2011 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Teodor Peterson (SWE) and Marit Bjeorgen (NOR) were victorious in today’s classic sprint races in Kuusamo, Finland, the first of three days of racing in the first Viessman FIS World Cup mini-tour event of the season. North Americans had a decent day, with a handful qualifying for the heats and the USA’s Kikkan Randall and Canada’s Lenny Valjas making it into the finals. Norway’s Petter Northug, a threat in any race, was a surprise 16th, after failing to make it out of his quarter final.

Racing in icy conditions with fresh snow falling in the tracks as the finals got underway, Peterson notched his first World Cup victory with a convincing win over Russia’s Nikita Kriukov and Norway’s Oeystein Pettersen. Canada’s Valjas recorded a career best World Cup result, placing 5th in the closely contested final. Finland’s Anssi Pentsinen, something of a surprise winner in the morning’s qualifier, delighted the stadium crowd by making it into the final, in which he placed 6th.

Bjoergen, who qualified 5th, once again demonstrated her power, taking control of the women’s final at the halfway mark and never looked back. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla was second, with Vibeke Skofterud finishing third, just holding off the hard-charging Randall, who established a career-best in classic sprint result claiming 4th, and making her first World Cup final in the discipline.

A number of other North Americans qualified for the heats today in Kuusamo. Canada’s Chandra Crawford earned her way into the heats for the first time in five tries in Kuusamo, qualifying 10th, showing that her classic sprinting has come a long way. Crawford was  eliminated in the quarters and finished 22nd. Her teammate, Dasha Gaiazova, shook off the jet lag from her recent arrival in Scandinavia to qualify in 12th overall before also being knocked out in the quarter-finals and finishing 14th on the day.

The USA’s Andy Newell qualified 19th and Canada’s Alex Harvey was 29th. Both were eliminated in the quarter finals, with Newell holding at 19th and Harvey moving up to 24th.

It was a tough day for Canada’s Perianne Jones and Devon Kershaw, both of whom failed to qualify. Jones finished 44th and Kershaw 56th in qualification.



1. Marit Bjoergen (NOR)
2. Charlotte Kalla (SWE)
3. Vibeke Skofterud (NOR)

4.   Kikkan Randall (USA)
14. Dasha Gaiazova (CAN)
22. Chandra Crawford (CAN)
43. Ida Sargent (USA)
44. Perianne Jones (CAN)
47. Sadie Bjorsen (USA)
50. Alysson Marshall (CAN)
70. Holly Brooks (USA)
85. Liz Stephen


1. Teodor Peterson (SWE)
2. Nikita Kriukov (RUS)
3. Oyestein Pettersen (NOR)

5.  Lenny Valjas (CAN)
19. Andy Newell (USA)
24. Alex Harvey (CAN)
56. Devon Kershaw (CAN)
82. Kris Freeman (USA)
87. Drew Goldsack (CAN)
91. Graham Nishikawa (CAN)
100. Ivan Babikov (CAN)
102. Lars Flora (USA)
111. Kevin Sandau (CAN)
120. Noah Hoffman (USA)
122. Tad Elliot (USA)
DNS – Simi Hamilton (USA)

Women’s qualification results HERE.
Women’s final results HERE.

Men’s qualification results HERE.
Men’s final results HERE.

Devon Kershaw on Swedish TV Talks World Cup, Guitars, and Bears

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November 14, 2011 (Sweden) – Check out this great video profile of Canada’s Devon Kershaw, which was broadcast recently by Sweden’s SVT network. An SVT crew visited Kershaw in Canmore prior to his departure for the start of the World Cup season. In the 10-minute segment Kershaw talks about his life and background as a cross-country ski racer, his team sprint victory in Oslo last year with Alex Harvey, the importance of his guitar-playing to cope with the stress of elite competition, and living in Canmore, including tips on how to deal with the bears! Also listen for the funny background commentary by Chandra Crawford!


August Off-Season Rambles: New Zealand Wrap, Fishing Trip, Share the Road…

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September 12, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – I’d advise you not to scroll down. Ok, well now that you did – don’t be daunted by the sheer length of this “New Yorkeresque” post. Other than amount of words – it’s about as far away from an actual “New Yorker” column as a post can get – think more “Tashkenter” in terms of literary notoriety, style, organization and prose (if the capital of Uzbekistan even has a “reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry” magazine) – and of course that may be over stepping.


Life as a Canadian Nordic skier is one of many travels and experiences and this August has disappointed – it’s been one heck of a busy month. I feel like Geoff Mack did back in 62’ – “I’ve been everywhere man…” As you’ve probably understood from the title of this post (which was generously donated by none other than the Big Guy), I’ve been gone awhile and I’ve gone to many different places.

How did New Zealand finish up? Great – thanks for asking. New Zealand this season was something out of a fairytale – until it wasn’t. The weather held up incredibly well for an obscene amount of days in a row – something you don’t expect when you stare long enough at the South Island on a map and realize “wow, there’s a ton of ocean around this thing.”

The training went as planned and we pushed it down there this year, which was good and planned. The collateral damage was our racing performances. Aside from Lenny, the rest of us struggled pretty hard in the 15km classic race down there. A tired body wouldn’t allow me to do much of anything but hang on as best I could, which was about all I could do. In the end both Alex and I were no match for the explosive final punch leveled on us by Freeman and Newell – who went 1-2. It was never in the cards to do the sprint – and stormzilla had other plans the Tuesday morning of the scheduled 10km skate race (it was cancelled. Apparently ski racing in 90+km/h winds and driving snow wasn’t in the cards).

Our final two days on the South Island reminded us why it’s the only island of any consequence that close to Antarctica. All I remember now of the last 48 hours was this: oodles of snow fell, wind battered the building creating noise strangely resembling that of a bad drum solo from some Scando metal band. We kept training of course, but down in the valley bottom on foot – and then we left. There were some tense moments at the Queenstown airport the day we left because of the terrible weather – but somehow our flight got in the air (and stayed there) and just like that I was on my way home.

Because of a B2ten training camp in Montreal a mere 6 days after our New Zealand camp I decided to just fly straight East and deal with jetlag there instead of coming back to Canmore for only a few days only to pack up and fly 4+ hours again to Montreal.

First up was some time in my hometown of Sudbury. Albeit a short trip, it was productive. The main reason for the return trip was to host and execute the 3rd annual “Share the Road” ride to raise bicycle awareness in a city that is notoriously bad for cycling/cyclists. Along with the STR ride, I got out with a few of the local ski clubs to lead a training session with them, caught up with some old friends, and got out for some great training of my own. A short – but fruitful trip home!

Even got out fishing with my dad. He’s one lucky dude – didn’t like fishing my whole life growing up, but seems to be slowly getting into it – here he is in a full Tilly outfit (except the hat?! WHAT?) with a 9.5 lb/72cm Pickerel he caught a few days ago.

Being the third year of the Share the Road event in Sudbury, we worked out a lot of kinks and over-planned for this year’s event. My dad and family friend Chris (Gore), along with countless others did a fantastic job and worked tirelessly to ensure this year’s event was both safe and a resounding success. I can happily report that thanks to the 30 volunteers (thanks to Blair Franklin for donating bike jerseys for the event!), the over 200 riders with us had a fun and safe time riding together. Eight police officers joined us as well to ensure it was safe – and deepest thanks to Enzo and his men/women. I really appreciated it.

Like every year, I was deeply moved again this year by the turnout, the stories I heard and the people I met. Sudbury has a long way to go – but to see and hear just how important safe cycling and cycling options (like bike paths/bike lanes) is to their citizens I hope they continue to make it a priority. Thanks as well to Natalie and Eleanor from “Share the Road” – it was great to catch up – as both our schedules don’t overlap often.

It was a quick trip to the Nickel City, and still nursing some jetlag next thing I knew I was packing up my duffel bag yet again and heading south – to Lenny’s cottage. I’ll keep this part short. This is what you need to know about it:

– It was awesome
– The Valjas family is so wonderful, caring and generous – and his mom is a top chef
– Living out west, I really do miss summers in Ontario – especially water sports
– I love Lenny’s dogs – Misty’s (one of the 2 dogs) doppelganger is Jose Bautista. Seriously – it’s messed.
– I am a terrible motorcyclist – and even after a great lesson from Lenny, I can’t see my tush on the Ducati anytime soon
– Seeing my dad attempt to wake surf will arouse titters for years upon recalling the memory
– Days spent on/in Georgian Bay, training in the area, hitting the sauna, eating great food are what makes cottage life like nothing else.
– I wish the fishing in Georgian Bay was what it was like back in 1988. Even when it’s beautiful, getting skunked a bummer.
– Thanks to the Valjas fam – you guys rule.

Travel weary but well fed, it was time for my final stop. At this point I should mention friends from Canmore had begun lobbing “get the H home” messages at me – and believe me I was ready to stop lugging around my equipment all over the world’s airports too and return to my Canadian Rocky Mountain home. BUT – the last stop was important – a mini-camp with the CNEPH (the Quebec Training Centre) and supported by B2ten (a group I am involved with – check them out at www.b2ten.ca) in the beautiful city of Montreal.

Since last year JD and the gang had been itching to get me to Montreal to go through the ringer at Paulo’s (B2ten’s physiologist) computrainer lab -“PowerWatts.” (www.powerwatts.com)

I tried to explain that I am a bum on the bike – but they wouldn’t have it. Jokes aside, I was excited to try it (The CNEPH guys had done it a couple times and told me all about it) and it was great to get some face time with the B2ten staff – who are great supporters not only of myself but of our National Ski Team.

The CNEPH boys, two National Biathlon Team members (JP and Marco) and myself sweated like we’ve never sweated before. We did a ton of cycling on the computrainers – doing everything from fun little exercises to all out painful time trial/races.

I’ll be honest – at first I thought it would be hellishly boring – being stuck inside on a bike didn’t sound like a good time to me, but I soon realized that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It was so fun! The hours went by so fast, as Paulo put us through the barrage of workouts both on the bike and on other machines in the B2ten gym/lab zone. We did a lot of hammering – and I did my fair share of smack talk to McMurr – so I’d say it exceeded expectations.

We had fun, we worked hard and we all got completely owned by Lenny – but the workouts, the chats and the time I spent with B2ten, the CNEPH boys, JP and Marco were great. Even though we weren’t in Montreal long, we did get some time to check out the city – which was great – and I even got to see my brother who goes to school at Concordia, so my mom won’t be mad at me (just kidding Sean – it was/is always great to see you!).

Big thanks to Dom (Gautier) and Jenn (Heil) for hosting/taking care of me. They are both just such stand up/awesome people. I really enjoy spending time with you two and thanks so much for your hospitality!

What should you take away from this update? Yes, the length and lack of editing is an astute point, and if you’ve read this blog before you will know that the critisism will be noted and discarded in favor of continuing lengthy drivel – but seriously, it was busy but all the travel was purposeful. Along with the rest of the NST crew – we’ve had a very productive and good summer of training, and it always feels so good to give back in some way. Thanks to the Valjas family, the STR volunteers, B2ten, Jenn and Dom, Scot at Blair Franklin, and my dad. Take the time to thank those around you, that’s always something you can take away. We never get anywhere on our own and it’s important to thank those that help you out.

I’ve been home now for about 10 days and it’s been glorious. The weather has been perfect (sunny, hot and beautiful), I’ve been enjoying the Canmore/area trails and time with friends. Got out to see “Ray Lamontagne” which was rad and oh yeah, and it’s been nice to unpack and do laundry 😉

Traveling is nice, but lately the only place I would want to be is here in the Canadian Rockies.

Not for long though – next Monday it’s off to Park City for our “fall classic” altitude camp. Looking forward to that of course!

Thanks for reading.


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August 24, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Since Beckie Scott’s breakthrough win at the 2002 Winter Olympics, North American sprinters have enjoyed growing success on the international cross-country race circuit. SPRINT to WIN, produced in 2008, features commentary from some of the most accomplished sprinters including Beckie Scott, Sara Renner and Chandra Crawford. Insight on the evolution of sprint racing is also provided from sprinting greats Kikkan Randall, Bjorn Lind, Emil Joensson and Devon Kershaw.

Purchase Sprint to Win HERE.

Kershaw Attends Sudbury Share the Road Ride

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August 22, 2011 (Sudbury, ON) – Devon Kershaw barely made it out of New Zealand during a intense winter storms last week, but he was determined to reach Sudbury, Ontario in time to participate in the Share the Road Ride on Thursday. The annual ride advocates for safer cycling routes in Northern Ontario of which Kershaw is a strong advocate, especially after his girlfriend was struck and killed while cycling in Sudbury in 2001. The region has undergone many positive changes in the form of new cycling paths and routes, Kershaw told The Sudbury Star – read the full article HERE.

Maui Camp – Sadly, Over Half Done…

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June 24, 2011 (Maui Hawaii) – It’s hard to believe that we are over 1/2 done our Hawaii camp – actually, it’s hard to believe that we are even here on Maui training – but seriously – the training has been stellar here on the island so far! I’ll keep this “picture heavy” for now but what we’ve been up to is training both down here at sea level (really getting after it).

It’s amazing how hard you can push (in intervals and in the weight room with thick air around!) as well as doing some amazing altitude work up high on Mt. Haleakala. I don’t think there’s a better road in the world to work on uphill technique and training. Imagine – 0m above the sea to all the way up to 3055m. All of which has great pavement to bang out some sweet rollerskiing.

Aside from putting in solid days of training, we’ve been able to “play” a little too. The past three days we’ve spent “down” at our base in Paia (on Maui’s North Shore) and have been lucky enough to enjoy a south swell that rolled in over on the South/SouthWest part of the island for a few surfing sessions – which have been a blast. Nothing big or anything, but fun enough to catch a few vagues.

Paia is my favorite place to stay on Maui – so I was really glad that Justin/Eric/Louis picked it as our base. The road up the volcano can start right from town – no commute to training! – and the vibe, (albeit decently hippie) is cool. Great restaurants, amazing grocery store, interesting vibe, proximity to great training, beaches, ocean, etc… make it completely great.

Enjoy some photos y’all….Aloha.

Now it’s back up on Mt. Haleakala to finish off the last three days of our camp. Some big hours and more time logged at the campsite high on the volcano. It’s been a sweet camp, and I’d recommend Maui as a training camp location – we’ve been enjoying it.

I’ll try and get the coaches to snap a few more pics and I’ll take some more too – and post another update in a bit.

Canadian XC Team In Hawaii for Altitude Training

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June 17, 2011 – The Canadian XC Ski Team is in Hawaii for its second off-season training camp. “We are going to be on Maui ten days doing altitude training on Haleakala volcano,” said Canada’s head coach Justin Wadsworth.

Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Ivan Babikov, Lenny Valjas, Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones will carry out volume and intensity training. “We will particularly focus on long uphill climbing rollerskiing and good technique,” revealed Wadsworth.

The Canadian team gathered this month for its second off-season training camp. Kershaw, Harvey and Co. carried out the first one together with the U.S ski team at Mount Bachelor, Oregon. Both national teams praised good snow conditions and excellent joint training sessions.

Canada’s head coach Justin Wadsworth decided to go Hawaii because of June weather conditions in Canmore. “It’s a perfect time to get out of Canmore as June is the rainy season there. The locals call it “monsoon June,” he explained.

Cross-Country Canada team gathers every month for a team training camp that usually lasts two weeks. “The next one is going to be on-snow at the Beckie Scott Training center on the Haig Glacier just outside of Canmore. There we will have both our World Cup Team, as well as our Senior Development team focusing on distance training on skis,” revealed Wadsworth plans for upcoming weeks.

Skiers Perform at Bowness Centennial Road Race

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June 16, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – The team laced up their running shoes this past Sunday for the Bowness Centennial Road Race in Calgary, celebrating their 100 year mark in the community. Sunny weather made for a great day to run the 10km course, mapped throughout historic Bowness.

Devon Kershaw joined the team in the run, helping sweep the mens podium. Kershaw posted the days fastest time of 32:45, after surging away at the 2km mark from second place finisher Kevin Sandau, crossing the line at 34:00. Graeme Killick rounded out the top 3 after out sprinting teammate Drew Goldsack by a second.

Heidi Widmer, now competing as a first year under-23, finished third in a time of 43:22. Annika Hicks finished just 13 seconds behind her, taking the 4th place spot.

As a bonus to the top 3 finishers, Mayor Naheed Nenshi presented the awards to the recipients.

Times from the weekend can be found HERE.

The Academy is now preparing for their camp to Kaslo, BC on June 20th, with road biking, roller skiing and ski striding planned for the 3 night camp.

Chandra Crawford’s Off Season Update!

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May 04, 2011 – Chandra Crawford has updated her blog documenting the flurry of spring activity during her off-season. She has been busy with Fast and Female events, fun cross-training activities, and a well-deserved luxury vacation in St. Lucia with Devon Kershaw. Also included in her May update are some great photos and a schedule of Crawford’s upcoming training camps and engagements. Read more at www.chandracrawford.ca. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chandracrawford

All Aboard – Canadian National XC Team Express Fundraiser by Canadian Pacific

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May 04, 2011 – A group of Canada’s medal-winning cross-country ski athletes, who combined to win an unprecedented 25 medals at the World Championships, IPC World Championships, World Cup and IPC World Cup races this year, will celebrate a season of excellence by hopping on a luxurious 1926 CP train with a handful of distinguished guests for a tour from Calgary through the spectacular Rocky Mountains to beautiful Banff, AB, on May 5 as a fundraising event.

Alex Harvey, who teamed up with Devon Kershaw, to win the nation’s first-ever World Championship medal – a gold in the team sprint; Brian McKeever, who won three gold and one silver at the IPC World Championships; Ivan Babikov, who is one of three Canadian men to win a World Cup gold medal; Daria Gaiazova, who captured her first World Cup bronze medal this season; Olympian Perianne Jones, who finished this season with her strongest World Cup result of her career; along with two-time Olympian George Grey will all be on board the Canadian National XC Team Express on Thursday.

The unique fundraising experience will help Cross Country Canada deliver the resources Canadian athletes require to continue achieving podium results on the track to the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

2011/12 Canadian XC Ski Teams and Coaching Staff Announced

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May 03, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Cross Country Canada has released its 2011/2012 season National Team and coaching staff roster on the heels of a record-breaking 2010/2011 campaign, which saw Canadian skiers achieve World Cup and World Championship medals. Look for the following list of racers to be making history on the snow next season and for years to come.

Senior World Cup Team
Head Coach: Justin Wadsworth
Coaches: Eric de Nys, Louis Bouchard
– Ivan Babikov – Foothills Nordic Ski Club, AB
– Chandra Crawford – Canmore Nordic Ski Club, AB
– Dasha Gaiazova – Rocky Mountain Racers, QC
– Alex Harvey – Club Nordique Mont Ste. Anne, QC
– Perianne Jones – Nakkertok Ski Club, ON
– Devon Kershaw – Ona Wa Su, ON
– Len Valjas – Team Hardwood, ON

Senior Development Team
Coaches: Louis Bouchard (CNEPH), Mike Cavaliere (AWCA), Eric Bailey (NDC-TB)
– Jess Cockney – Foothills Nordic/AWCA, AB
– Drew Goldsack – Rocky Mountain Racers/AWCA, AB
– Graeme Killick – Banff Ski Runners/AWCA, AB
– Alysson Marshall – Larch Hills/AWCA, BC
– Brent McMurtry – Foothills Nordic/CNEPH, AB
– Emily Nishikawa – Whitehorse/AWCA, YK
– Graham Nishikawa – Whitehorse/AWCA, YK
– Kevin Sandau – Foothills Nordic/AWCA, AB
– Michael Somppi – Lappe/Thunder Bay NDC, ON
– Frédéric Touchette – Club Nordique Mont Ste. Anne, QC

Junior Team
– Dahria Beatty – Whitehorse, YT
– Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt – Club de ski de fond Fondeurs-Laurentides/CVTC, QC
– Raphael Couturier – Commission de ski Nordique Skibec/CNEPH, QC
– Janelle Greer – Whitehorse/AWCA, YT
– Zach Holland – Banff Ski Runners/AWCA, AB
– Knute Johnsgaard – Whitehorse/CNEPH, YT
– Maya Macissac-Jones – Rocky Mountain Racers, AB
– Alex Mahoney – Rocky Mountain Ski Racers, AB
– Camille Pepin – Club Nordique M.S.A., QC
– Rebecca Reid – Black Jack Nordic/AWCA, BC
– Geoffrey Richards – Black Jack Nordic/CVTC, BC
– Martin Schrama – Banff Ski Runners/CVTC, AB
– Sébastien Townsend – Club Nakkertok Nordique, QC
– Alexis Turgeon – Club de ski de fond Skinouk, QC
– Michelle Workun-Hill – Club Nakkertok Nordique, QC

Para-Nordic World Cup Team
Head Coach: Robin McKeever
– Mark Arendz – Foothills Nordic, AB
– Jody Barber – Bulkley Valley Ski Club, BC
– Colette Bourgonje – Snobuddy Ski Club, SK
– Chris Klebl – Lifesport, AB
– Brian McKeever – Foothills Nordic Ski Club, AB
– Robin McKeever (guide) – Foothills Nordic Ski Club, AB
– Erik Carleton (guide) – Rocky Mountain Racers, AB

Para-Nordic Development Team
Coaches: Pierre Pomerleau, Robin McKeever
– Sébastien Fortier, Skibec/Hus-ski, QC

** National Development Centre teams will be announced when all information is available**

Kershaw Wins Tellement Sport Male Athlete of the Year

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April 14, 2011 (Quebec City, QC) – Canmore, Alberta’s Devon Kershaw was announced Tellement Sport’s Male Athlete of the Year after the Canadian XC ski star logged a breakthrough season in which he won his first ever World Cup event during the FIS Tour de Ski. Kershaw was among a strong line-up of Canadian male athletes, including team mate and 2011 U23 Sprint World Champ, Alex Harvey. Click HERE to view the video (in French).

Audio Interview with Alex Harvey

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March 29, 2011 (Quebec City, QC) – Listen to this heartwarming CBC interview with Alex Harvey, one of Canada’s top XC skiers on the history-making men’s National Ski Team. Harvey and Devon Kershaw are blazing the way for men’s XC skiing in Canada with two top-10’s in the overall 2011 FIS World Cup standings.

Listen HERE.

Watch Devon Kershaw’s First WCup WIN at the Tour de Ski Italy

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March 23, 2011 (Toblach, Italy) – Check out this fantastic video coverage of Devon Kershaw’s (CAN) first World Cup victory during Stage 5 of the 2011 Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy. He beat out the world’s best sprinters with the ultimate breakthrough performance that paved the way for a historic season in Canadian men’s XC skiing, including a gold medal in the Team Sprint with teammate Alex Harvey at the Nordic World Championships, at the famous Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway.

2011 FIS XC WCup Falun Finale – More Photos

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March 21, 2011 (Falun, Sweden) – If you missed the action at this past weekend’s 2011 FIS Viessmann WCup finale in Falun, Sweden check out this great photo gallery of some of the sport’s top skiers as the season’s final champions were crowned following the 10/15km Handicap start pursuit race. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug won the final mini tour while Dario Cologna (SUI) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) were crowned the overall season champions – read more here and here.

Stockholm WCup Sprint Photos

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March 17, 2011 (Stockholm, Sweden) – Here are some great photos from yesterday’s Royal Palace Sprint in Stockholm won by Petra Majdic (SLO) and Emil Joensson (NOR). With their victories, Joensson and Majdic sewed up the respective men’s and women’s 2011 World Cup Sprint titles, as the series now heads into the final weekend in Falun, Sweden. The USA’s Kikkan Randall claimed third overall in the women’s Sprint Series – read more here on the women’s race and here for the men’s race.


Canadian Olympian XC Skier George Grey to Retire

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March 17, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – When two-time Olympic cross-country skier George Grey hits the start line for Saturday’s 50-kilometre skate-ski race at the Haywood Ski Nationals, it will be his final competitive trip around the famed Canmore Nordic Centre.

After racing on the World Cup for nearly a decade against the top athletes on the globe, and competing in the Torino and Vancouver Olympics along with five World Championships, the 31-year-old Grey, of Rossland, B.C., has decided to retire.

“For me the timing just felt right,” said Grey, who started skiing when he was four years old, and racing at age seven. “In the last two years I felt like I accomplished many of my career goals and reached a performance level that was as high as I could attain. I am now looking forward to being a husband, father, and to new challenges and experiences in life.”

“I reached a peak in 2010 and thought maybe, just maybe, if I skied one more year I could contend for a medal in 2011 at the World Championships. To be able to hang in for one more season and experience the World Championships in Norway, and see Devon and Alex become World Champions, was an incredibly memorable final season.”

With Canada’s Beckie Scott having just broken through to win Canada’s first Olympic medal in the sport, Grey emerged onto the National Ski Team in 2002 with a group of bright-eyed, energetic young men from across the country poised and determined to follow Scott’s trail to the international podium.

Devon Kershaw was the first to find his way onto the podium. Kershaw became the first male in more than a decade to mount the international podium in 2006, and it didn’t take long for the others to follow suit. Four years later, Grey enjoyed a breakthrough moment of his own with his most memorable races coming at Whistler Olympic Park. The veteran teamed up with National Ski Team rookie, Alex Harvey, in 2009 to win a World Cup bronze medal in the sprint relay at the Olympic Test Event in Whistler. His best Olympic and individual career finish was eighth during the pursuit competition in 2010 when all three Canadian men finished in the top-10, and all four in the top-20.

“Getting my hands on just one medal was such an incredible high for me, and sharing it with such a talented athlete and friend in Alex made it even sweeter,” said Grey, whose best individual result outside the Olympics was a ninth-place finish at the Tour de Ski prologue in 2009. “My fondest memory has to be the 30-kilometre pursuit race with Ivan (Babikov), Alex (Harvey), and Devon (Kershaw) skiing right at the front of the pack with me. We were showing the world that we had finally arrived, and what we were capable of as a team. It was a career best for me, and to do it at a home Olympics with three of my buddies was amazing.”

After 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, Grey leaves the sport with the Canadian men’s squad amongst the best in the world.

“When I joined the Canadian men’s team we were described as ‘Canada’s most anonymous athletes,’ he said. “Now our team has World Championship medallists, World Cup medallists, Tour de Ski medallists. We have delivered a solid team. I know Canada is in good hands and there is loads of great talent coming up the system so I will sleep well.”

While racing was such a small part of his career, it was the countless hours of training with his friends and teammates that taught him to be patient, driven, tough and most importantly, goal-oriented along the journey.

“I get nostalgic thinking about all the hard training days that I endured with teammates at my side,” said Grey, who cites five-to-six hours of roller skiing in the pouring rain, nearly 50 kilometres of running and stomping their way up to glaciers as some of the most grueling training moments. “Only with your closest teammates is it possible to repeat training days like this every other week. My team and I have shed more sweat and spit on mountains than most would ever think possible.”

With the last goal remaining in his career to ski to the top of the podium on Saturday at the Haywood Ski Nationals, Grey would like to stay within sport if there is an opportunity to do so in the future, while also studying in the securities industry.

“The 2010 Olympics were sensational. The World Champs this year in Norway were staggering, but I am more than happy to wave a warm good-bye and smile at all the precious memories that I have accumulated. Thank you to everyone for your incredible support. My father always told me it is the process and not the outcome. I have fully realized that now, and I will never forget those who have helped me along this incredible ride.”