March 17th, 2012
FALUN, Sweden – The men’s 15km classical mass start may have started at a relaxed pace, but by the time the leaders reached the first available bonus points that changed. As they climbed the Mördarbacken it was important to maintain contact with the lead group as long as that was not at the expense of having enough in the tank for the rest of the gradual climbs on the loop.
At the end it was a similar scene to the Holmenkollen 50km from just a week ago with Dario Cologna (SUI) and Eldar Roenning (NOR) fighting for the win. This time, however, it was Cologna that pulled ahead just before the finish.
Following Cologna and Roenning was more Canadian success as Lenny Valjas skied perhaps the smartest race of anyone, hanging back for the first two laps of the three-lap case. Valjas used his big stride to close down the gaps over the final kilometers before finding himself in a battle for third place with Norway’s Niklas Dyrhaug.
Valjas coined, “the King of the gradual finish,” by teammate Devon Kershaw after the race, charged up the final stadium hill to take third.
Behind Valjas was Kershaw, who went for the bonus points throughout the race, which he said left him without the needed energy over the final kilometer, finished fifth.
Alex Harvey followed for the Canadian squad in 18th place and Kevin Sandau skied a strong race, starting near the back of the field and moving his way up throughout the race before finishing 34th place.
With Sylvan Ellefson sidelined due to his crash yesterday, Andy Newell was the only American to toe the starting line. He seemed happy with his performance, ending the day in 29th place.