Cross country skiers get disappointing start 

After a solid warm-up in Sweden, the Canadian cross-country team headed to Gallivare, Sweden for the opening World Cup event last week.

In the men's 15 km Freestyle race, the top Canadian was Alex Harvey in 34 th place. He was followed by Ivan Babikov in 54 th place, Devon Kershaw 58 th , George Grey 78 th and Brent McMurtry in 94 th place.

It was a close-fought event, with Harvey just over a minute off of the podium. Marcus Hellner of Sweden ran away with the gold medal in 32:26.0, followed by Dario Cologna of Switzerland in 32:37 and Daniel Rickardsson of Sweden in 32:46.

Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth wondered if his skiers were a little tired coming into the race.

"Our guys were a little flat today and it didn't go as well as we expected, but it is nothing to panic about," he said. "We trained pretty hard coming into this race, and that, combined with a little jet lag, maybe hurt us a little. The guys are in good shape and things will get better."

No Canadian women competed in the women's 10 km Freestyle event. Marit Bjoergen took the win, ahead of Charlotte Kalla of Sweden and Arianna Follis of Italy.

The men also competed in the 4X10 km relay, placing a disappointing 18th out of 23 teams. The team was comprised of George Grey, Devon Kershaw, Ivan Babikov and Alex Harvey.

Canada's female sprinters had a good weekend by comparison, opting to compete in a Scandinavian Cup classic sprint race at Rovaniemi, Finland. Canmore's Chandra Crawford placed first in that race, while teammate Daria Gaiazova was second. Five Russian skiers followed, then Hannah Dreissigacker of the U.S. Len Valjas was the top Canadian in the men's sprint in second place, with teammate Stefan Kuhn also qualifying for the finals and placing eighth.



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