Kershaw clinches 2nd overall on World Cup X-C circuit

Devon Kershaw, of Canada, finished in fifth place on Saturday in the World Cup finals cross-country race, to clinch a second place overall standing int his year's World Cup ski circuit; the highest finish ever by a Canadian.

Highest finish by Canadian man in history of the sport

Devon Kershaw of Canada finished in fifth place at a World Cup finals race on Saturday; a finish that would clinch him second place standing overall. (Anders Wiklund/Associated Press)

Devon Kershaw, of Canada, finished in fifth place in the men's 15-kilometre classic mass start race at the World Cup finals Saturday at Falun, Sweden, to clinch a second place overall standing on this year's World Cup cross-country ski circuit.

It was the highest finish ever by a Canadian male, and matches the efforts of Beckie Scott on the women's side in 2006.

Kershaw finished less than a second behind fellow Canadian Len Valjas, who came in third.

"I'm not sure how I'm doing all this," Valjas said. "We had a great training camp in Italy last month and I've just been building from that. I just can't ask for anything more right now."   

The six-foot-six Valjas won a silver medal last week, and then followed it up with a bronze on Wednesday. Saturday's podium performance made it 13 for Canada on this World Cup season.   

"Now this is truly amazing," said Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth. "I am a bit blow away. It is unreal."   

With the world's top skiers battling for bonus points on the course that climbs the punishing Mordarbacken hill, Valjas stuck to his gameplan and picked off his competitors as they tired down the home stretch.   

"I felt so good on the final gradual climb," said Valjas, who was sixth entering the final stretch. "I just stuck to my pace and didn't waste energy going for the bonuses.   

"Coming into the finish people started dying. I just tried to pick as many off as I could. When I got to fifth and fourth, it was just an unreal feeling."

The bronze medal comes a day after Alex Harvey and Kershaw made more Canadian cross-country ski history. Harvey won Friday's men's classic prologue while Kershaw claimed bronze — the first time two Canadians had shared the podium in a cross-country World Cup race.

Dario Cologna of Switzerland finished first in Saturday's race with a time of 43 minutes, 14.9 seconds.

Cologna, already the overall World Cup winner, finished the third of four stages in 43 minutes, 14.9 seconds. The concluding 35-kilometre race is on Sunday.

With files from Associated Press and Canadian Press

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