POSTED: Thursday February 24th 2011

Canada's Podium Dreams Crushed in Chaotic Sprint Races at Nordic World Ski Championships

Alex Harvey leads five Canadians into sprint heats with seventh-place finish

DRAMMEN, Nor.—Canada's top cross-country skiers will have to wait another day to hop onto the podium at the 2011 Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo, Norway.

With Alex Harvey and Chandra Crawford leading a group of five skiers into the head-to-head heats of the skate-sprint race with the top-30 athletes, the Canadians had tough luck as crashes, broken poles and chaotic racing prevented them from skiing to the podium.

Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., who is coming off a silver medal in a World Cup skate-sprint last week, had a strong quarter-final heat, and was poised to advance to the finals while skiing shoulder-to-shoulder with Sweden's Emil Joensson until a Swiss skier stepped on his pole and spun the 22-year-old out of medal contention in the semis. Harvey finished in seventh spot.

"I am kind of disappointed. I felt really good and wanted to be in that final," said Harvey, who battled back to rebound after the near crash but it was too little too late to catch the two Swedes. "The good thing is I know my shape is there and my best shots for medals are in the distance races still to come."

Toronto's Len Valjas also qualified for the heats, but was eliminated in the quarter-finals to finish a solid 15th in his first World Championship race.

Sweden's Marcus Hellner won the men's race. Norway's Petter Northug captured the silver medal while Sweden's Emil Joensson rounded out the podium in third.

Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont. and Stefan Kuhn, of Canmore, Alta. did not qualify for the heats. Kershaw was 31st in qualifying, while Kuhn finished 51st.

The hard luck continued for the Canadians in the women's heats. Chandra Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., Daria Gaiazoava, of Banff, Alta., and Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., all advanced into the round of 30. It was the Olympic gold medallist Crawford who was poised to move onto the semis skiing comfortably near the front until she got tangled up with Justyna Kowalczyk after the Polish athlete stepped on her pole, and nearly crashed with 300 metres to go in the opening heat.

"We were definitely hoping for a little better luck today," said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. "Chandra and Alex were both skiing quite well, but that is sprint racing. You can be the fastest skier in the world, but all kinds of stuff can happen and your day is over."

Gaiazova finished 20th, Crawford placed 28th, while Jones enjoyed a solid outing, finishing 29th.

Norway's Marit Bjoergen won the women's sprint, while Italy's Arianna Follis skied to the silver medal and Slovenia's Petra Majdic locked up the bronze.

The Nordic World Ski Championships continue on Saturday with the women's 15-kilometre pursuit race.

CrossCountry Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation's optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 51,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada's National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners - Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Teck Resources Ltd. and Statoil - along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at

Complete World Cup Results:

Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:

1. Marcus Hellner, SWE; 2. Petter Northug, NOR; 3. Emil Joennson, SWE; 4. Ola Vigen Hattestad, NOR; 5.Jesper Modin, SWE.

Other Canadian Results:

7. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que.; 15. Len Valjas, Toronto; 31. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont.; 51. Stefan Kuhn, Canmore, Alta.

Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:

1. Marit Bjoergen, NOR; 2. Arianna Follis, ITA; 3. Petra Majdic, SLO; 4. Vesna Fabjan, SLO; 5. JustynaKowalczyk, POL.

Canadian Results:

20. Daria Gaiazova, Banff, Alta.; 28. Chandra Crawford, Canmore, Alta.; 29. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont.

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Keywords · Cross Country Canada · Chaotic Sprint Races · Nordic World Ski Championships · Alex Harvey

Name: Chris Dornan
Organization: Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton
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