Hard fight for the Canadians with tricky wax conditions

31 December 2011 08:46
Kershaw Oberhof
Kershaw Oberhof -

Canada's Devon Kershaw gave everything he had for a 15th-place finish on a day when the winner should have taken the wax technicians up on the podium with him at the Tour de Ski in Oberhof, Germany on Friday.

Heavy snow rolling through the Wintersport Stadium in Oberhof over the last 15 hours combined with warm weather sent the world’s best wax technicians into a frenzy debating on how best to prep skis for the men’s 15-kilometre classic-ski race to mark the second stage of the Tour de Ski.

“When you face conditions like this, it is kind of like playing the lottery,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team. “Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’t. Today we didn’t get it right, but that doesn’t happen to our team very often because we have some of the best wax techs in the world. But you can see the country’s that nailed it today.”

With no kick to his skis after the first three of five laps when the track became glassy, Kershaw was relentless in his fight for another top-15 finish with a time of 46 minutes, 19.5 seconds.

“The body felt so good again today, it is really tricky conditions and I had to rely solely on my upper body for the last six kilometres,” said the 29-year-old Kershaw. “It is a bit frustrating, but that is the game of cross-country skiing. Our guys tried their best, but the temperatures warmed up and there’s nothing you can do. We have the best wax techs in the business, and this will motivate them for sure. It is frustrating, but tomorrow will be similar conditions and I know we’ll get it right. There are lots of races to go.”

Starting 25 seconds behind-the-leaders in 12th spot based on Thursday’s prologue results, Kershaw settled himself in a group of the top-40 athletes that included his countrymen Alex Harvey and Ivan Babikov who all matched stride-for-stride with each other until the final two punishing loops where they had only their arms to guide them home.

The German squad nailed ski preparations as Axel Teichmann glided across the line to win the second stage and take the overall Tour lead. Teichmann clocked a winning time of 46:03.3. Norway’s Petter Northug was second at 46:05.6, while Switzerland’s Dario Cologna locked up third place with a time of 46:06.2.

Starting in sixth spot, the 23-year-old Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., dropped to 27th place with a time of 46:43.1. Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., finished 52nd (47:43.0).

“I couldn’t kick the skis today,” said Harvey. “When you don’t have kick you just work your arms so hard and blow up. I had nothing for the final two laps.”

Cross Country Canada