The second to the last race of the 2010 World Cup circuit was a 20k skate in Falun, Sweden. The Canadian team started out with Alex Harvey in 27th, Devon Kershaw in 31st and Ivan Babikov in 48th. Graham Nishikawa did not start. It was warm and wet with high humidity and a temperature of 7 deg. C.
The team was determined to show that Canada belonged at the top of the men's standings and set out at the begining to move up the rankings. At 2.5 k Alex had jumped up 5 positions and by 5k was 4 seconds off the lead in 14th. The leader at 5k was Ivan Babikov! Devon Kershaw was skiing steady in 21st.
At the exchange Harvey and Babikov were skiing together in 13th and 14th, with a small gap from the lead skiers, ten seconds from the leader, Estonian, Andrus Veerpalu. Devon Kershaw was back in 23rd.
Petter Northug pushed the pace after the ski change and led at 13k with Alex Harvey losing some seconds in 15th and Babikov in 18th, but by 15k the pack had closed the gap and Alex Harvey was skiing with the top group 3 seconds from the lead along with 30 of his other closest friends, including Ivan Babikov. Devon Kershaw was another 10 seconds back in 33rd.
Over the last 5k, the pack stretched out with Hellner leading at 18k. Ivan was in a small group of skiers in 12th, 23 seconds off the pace, with Alex another 10 seconds back in 19th and Devon Kershaw in 37th.
The victory went to Norway's Petter Northug in a sprint to the finish, Germany's Tobias Angerer beating out Czech Lukas Bauer for second in a photo finish. Ivan Babikov was the top Canadian in 13th after a close fight with Italy's Giorgio di Centa.
Just behind Ivan was a large pack of finishers led by Dario Cologna, with 4 seconds seperating 15 skiers. The pack included Alex Harvey who edged out a Norwegian, Ole-Marius Bach in a photo finish for 22nd. Devon Kershaw finished 38th on the day.
Some of Ivan's post race thoughts: " Was way better today for me. I was leading field today after 5km in CLASSIC. WEIRD!"
Contributed by Cross-Country Canada