Up until these Games, Pierre Harvey owned Canada’s best cross-country ski results for a man. In Calgary 22 years ago, he finished 14th in the 30 km individual event. Remarkably, yesterday at Whistler, three Canadian skiers broke that mark in that same event, with another nearly tying it. Though no medal was won, it was an indisputably great day on the snow for our cross-country skiers.
Ivan Babikov, known for pushing the limits of endurance, recorded another top-10 race at these Games. He finished fifth yesterday in a time of 1:15:20.5. That finish is the highest any Canadian men’s skier has ever accomplished. He said everyone from the cheering fans to the wax technicians to the coaches and to members of Cross Country Canada were part of the unprecedented results.
The 19th-ranked skier in the world was just nine seconds off the gold medal pace. And he was not alone near the top. Right behind him were teammates George Grey in 8th spot and Alex Harvey in 9th. That’s right: Alex, son of Pierre, helped three Canadians beat Canada’s best result ever. He finished five slots higher than his father did when he set a record that stood for 22 years. The fourth skier, Devon Kershaw, was 16th with a photo replay needed to determine who was 15th.
“I wish I was right there with them but at the same time to have three people in the top-10 at the Olympic Games at home is just phenomenal,” Kershaw said.
Fifty-three skiers finished the race, illustrating that Canada is now a prime player in international cross-country skiing. It seems these skiers were simply bent on a great performance in front of Canadian fans, as they far outshot their world rankings. Heading into the Games, Kershaw was ranked 27th, Harvey 39th and Grey 110th overall in the World Cup standings.
While all performances were strong, Grey’s is extremely impressive, as he climbed all the way to 8th in Whistler.
“What we did is probably going to stay in the history books for some time – three in the top ten,” Grey said.