Devon Kershaw from Canada is one of only two North Americans in the Tour de Ski this season, together with his team-mate Dave Nighbour. The 25 year old from Canmore came into the Tour this year with some good World Cup form – a 16th place in the 15km Classic in Kuusamo, and 12th from a sprint finish in the 30km Freestyle in Rybinsk. Kershaw fell short of expectations in the opening Prologue in Nove Mesto, finishing 25th 24 seconds off the pace, but managed to hold the main pack in the 15km Pursuit on Stage 2 to be within 12 seconds of second place overall going into the Stage 3 Sprint in Prague.
Qualifying in 5th place and with plenty of bonus seconds on offer in the finals, Kershaw looked ready to take up the challenge to the overall leaders of the Tour. Unfortunately a pole through his own legs and face plant in the quarter finals saw him out on the sidelines while others jumped past him in the overall classification.
However there is plenty of racing left in this Tour. Kershaw is currently in 16th place overall, one minute from the lead but only 12 seconds outside the top 10. On the road from Prague back to Nove Mesto Kershaw shared some of his thoughts about the Spring and the Tour so far:
“The prologue wasn't great; I had a tough Pursuit but was happy to be up there. Then in Prague before the sprint I felt good. City-sprint courses suit me. I like the tight courses and I'm good at accelerating out of the corners. So I was feeling confident. After finishing the qualification in 5th my confidence was way up. In my heat I got away to a bad start, but I wasn't worried. I waited then half way through went to make a move up to first place. The next thing I knew I got tangled up, stuck my pole between my skis, broke it and ploughed my face into the snow. I was disappointed sure. I was aiming to make at least the semis. But I gave myself 10 minutes to be pissed then it was time to move on. I need all the energy I can for the next five races.”
Kershaw is in good company going into the next Pursuit. Within two seconds ahead of him is Soedergren (SWE) and Sommerfeldt (GER), then in the next 5 seconds after him are Checchi (ITA), Jonnier (FRA), Teichmann (GER) and Olympic Pursuit champion Dementiev (RUS). Then in the next 5 seconds are Goering (GER), Bajcicak (SVK), Piller Cottrer (ITA) and 2006-2007 Tour winner Angerer (GER). There will likely be a big pack trying to pull back time on the leaders, and all Kershaw needs to do is hang on. The placing is not so important in this next stage, just the time. It will be the 15km Classic individual start on Stage 5 that sorts out the overall contenders from the rest of the field.