Canadian’s Struggle to Find Top Gear

12 March 2010 10:11

DRAMMEN, Nor.-A trio of Canadian cross-country skiers came up short in their bid to qualify for the finals of a classic-ski sprint race as the World Cup resumed in the centre of Drammen, Norway on Thursday.

Coming off one of national program's most successful Olympic Winter Games ever, despite not winning a medal, none of the three Canadian athletes advanced with the top-30 qualifiers into the head-to-head heats.

Dasha Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., led the way with a 39th place finish in the women's sprint. Stefan Kuhn, of Canmore, Alta., was 54th while Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was 55th in men's racing on the downtown streets of Drammen.

"We were just slower than normal today. We can't blame being tired because everyone had to travel from Vancouver," said Dave Wood, team leader, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. "We have a distance race and sprint on the weekend and will look to be better then."

Norway's Marit Bjoergen picked up where she left off at the Olympics by winning the women's sprint in front of the hometown crowd. Bjoergen was joined on the podium by two Finnish athletes. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen was second, while Pirjo Muranen grabbed the bronze.

On the men's side of the draw, it was Sweden's Emil Joensson who sprinted to the gold medal spot on the podium. Norway's Petter Northug Jr. skied to the silver while Andrew Newell, of the United States, hopped onto the podium for the first time this year after winning the bronze.

The World Cup continues on Saturday in Oslo, Norway with the women's 30-kilometre and men's 50-kilometre skate-ski races.

Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada. 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. Cross-country skiing is Canada's optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually.

Contributed by Cross-Country Canada