Red-hot Kershaw skis to 1st gold in XC
Canadian has 3-straight top-3 finishes
Canada's Devon Kershaw won a World Cup cross-country race for the first time Saturday, capturing a 15-kilometre freestyle mass start race.
The Sudbury, Ont., native was timed in 36 minutes 47.5 seconds, coming from behind to beat Russia's Ilia Chernousov by 0.9 seconds at the finish line.
Kershaw is just the second Canadian to win a full World Cup cross-country ski race.
"It only took 10 years but I got it," Kershaw said. "I can't explain it. The body is just feeling super good. I'm in good shape but I'm just having a lot of fun."
Tobias Angerer of Germany was third, 1.6 seconds behind the winner.
Kershaw, a two-time Olympian, became the second Canadian male to jump onto the top step of a men's World Cup podium behind Pierre Harvey who captured three victories in 1987 and 1988. Kershaw and teammate Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., also have victories at the Tour de Ski.
Pierre Harvey's son, Alex, was fifth. The St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., native raced to a time 36:53.0. Babikov finished 17th (37:01.1).
Saturday marked Kershaw's third straight top-three finish. He was third in the 15K classical race in Otepea, Estonia, two weeks ago and third in a sprint race in Moscow on Thursday.
"There is lots of positives today," said Kershaw, who claimed the gold in a skate-ski sprint race in Toblach, Italy, 13 months ago on the Tour de Ski. "This is my first distance win."
With 500 metres to go, Kershaw knew the race was his.
"I got to the top of that last climb in third and I looked around and said 'I'm going to take this one,"' he said. "I felt so comfortable today in the pack. I just knew at the top of that hill I was going to win. That is a really good feeling."
Meanwhile, Norway's Marit Bjoergen dominated the women's event to regain the overall lead.
Bjoergen completed the 10K in 26:43.9 for her 10th victory of the season. Sweden's Charlotte Kalla was 4.1 seconds behind for second. Marthe Kristoffersen of Norway finished third, 19.4 behind the winner.
Bjoergen, who had skipped Thursday's sprint events in Moscow, reclaimed the top position in the overall World Cup standings with 1,598 points after 25 of 37 races. Defending World Cup champion Justyna Kowalczyk dropped to second, 23 points behind Bjoergen, after finishing seventh.
Men's overall leader Dario Cologna of Switzerland is skipping the Moscow events.
The World Cup resumes Sunday with skiathlon races.