Canada wins men's relay gold at Nordic worlds
Canada's Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw skied into the record books Wednesday with a photo finish win over Norway in the men's classical-style team sprint at the Nordic world skiing championships in Oslo, Norway.
Harvey edged Ola Vigen Hattestad at the line to earn Canada its first medal in men's competition at the world championships.
The only other Canadian cross-country skier to win a medal at the world championships is Sara Renner of Canmore, Alta., who took bronze in a classic-ski sprint race in 2005.
"The Norwegians have like 100 world championship medals and we won our first today for Canada," said Harvey, a 22-year-old from St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que. "To do it at the birthplace of the sport is incredible."
"It is a dream come true and to do this in Norway is amazing," added Kershaw, a 28-year-old from Sudbury, Ont.
The Canadians, who won in 19 minutes 10 seconds, met the king of Norway immediately following the race.
The final featured 10 teams made up of two athletes who raced three times around the 1.5-kilometre track while handing off to their partner following each leg.
Skiing at the back of the lead pack for the first half of the race, Kershaw gradually picked away at the field where he handed off to Harvey in third spot at the final exchange. Harvey then chased down his Norwegian foe in front of a crowd of more than 50,000.
"Devon handed off to me in a perfect position. I just skied my stride and picked my lines," said Harvey. "With 300 metres to go I knew where I wanted to be on the last downhill. I have been practising it all week and then I just went as hard as I could to the finish. It was just incredible with all those people going crazy."
The Norwegians finished in 19:10.2, ahead of Russia in 19:10.5.
Harvey and Kershaw sat out Tuesday's 15 km classic-ski race to rest for the team sprint.
"It was such a tough decision that we made as a team because that is my favourite event, but we did it because we knew we had a shot at a medal today," said Kershaw. "To have it pay off and come out on top with the gold is just a dream."
Kershaw became the third Canadian male ever to win a World Cup race in January at the Tour de Ski where he also twice skied to the silver-medal position on the podium, and to a bronze.
Harvey was coming off a silver medal performance Sunday at a World Cup skate-sprint race in Drammen, Norway.
The son of cross-country skier Pierre Harvey, the first Canadian to win a World Cup race, Alex is no stranger to international success.
Last month he became the first Canadian to win at the world under-23 championships. He also has two World Cup bronze medals in his three years of racing on Canada's elite squad.
Meanwhile, Jason Lamy Chappuis of France won gold in the large hill Nordic combined event.
The Olympic normal hill champion held off Germany's Johannes Rydzek and Eric Frenzel to win in 25 minutes 31.6 seconds. He started the cross-country portion in second place behind Norway's Haavard Klemetsen after a 133.5-metre ski jump.
Rydzek and Frenzel trailed after the jump but moved through the field to take silver and bronze.
In other events, Charlotte Kalla broke clear in the final lap to win gold for Sweden in the classical-style sprint relay.
Kalla and teammate Ida Ingemarsdotter beat Finland and Norway to win the six-lap sprint in 19:25. Krista Lahteenmaki edged Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen at the line to take silver for Finland.
Lahteenmaki and Aino Kaisa Saarinen trailed the Swedish team by 3.3 seconds. Norway finished 4.1 seconds back.