Canuck skier just misses bronze

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Canada's Devon Kershaw, top left, during the men's 50 km mass start classic cross-country final at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Feb. 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

WHISTLER — Devon Kershaw had the race of his life in an event that unfortunately will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

The cross-country skier finished fifth in the gruelling men’s 50-kilometre event at the Whistler Olympic Park Sunday, by far the best-ever finish by a Canadian in the event.

Kershaw’s performance was overshadowed by the controversial decision by Canadian officials to leave legally blind skier Brian McKeever out of the race despite early promises that he would race.

Kershaw finished the race even in a time of 2:5:37.1, just 1.6 seconds out of gold and six-tenths-of-a-second shy of bronze. Norway’s Petter Northug, with a spirited sprint to the finish, took gold while Germany’s Alex Teichmann finished third.

“After racing for more than two hours and coming that close to winning gold — just a second and a half away — it's hard to accept,” said a choked-up Kershaw. “It was a great race for me but to finish that close ...”

George Grey was the next-closest Canadian in 18th followed by Alex Harvey in 32nd and Ivan Babikov in 33rd. The latter two were more than five minutes and 14 seconds behind the winner.

“It was tough on all of us, it was tough to feel the pain Brian was feeling,” Grey said. “It was painful for me as his friend.”

Babikov defended his decision to race despite admitting he was still feeling exhausted from earlier races in these Games.

“We all have to be professional here,” Babikov said. “It was a tough decision but it was out of our hands.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca.

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