After somewhat of a slow start to the season, the Canadians found some serious speed on Saturday in Oberhof, Germany, as Alex Harvey finished first and Devon Kershaw took second in the 4.5-kilometer freestyle prologue — the first stage of the Tour de Ski.
“It was obviously a great day for me,” Harvey told FIS. “[Four-and-a-half] k prologues are always very hard, you need to pace it really perfectly I think if you want to be in the top ten. So try to start fast, but save some power for the last lap.”
Kershaw sat in the leader’s chair for a good portion of the race after topping Swede Jens Eriksson‘s previous best by 11.4 seconds. Harvey was the only man to finish faster by 4.1 seconds in 9:03.4, bumping Kershaw to second.
Despite some late Norwegian starters, their positions held as Chris Jespersen of Norway placed third, 10.2 seconds behind Harvey. Russia’s Ilia Chernousov was fourth, France’s Robin Duvillard fifth, and Norway’s Martin Sundby sixth, while Eriksson ended up seventh.
Finland’s Sami Jauhojaervi rounded out the top 10 in eighth, along with Norway’s Finn Haagen Krogh in ninth and Estonia’s Aivar Rahemaa in 10th.
The 12th starter, Andy Newell led the U.S. in 20th (+20.4) after hovering just outside the top 10 for much of the race. Canada’s Ivan Babikov had a personal-best prologue finish in 26th (+24.8), just 0.2 seconds behind Norwegian Petter Northug in 25th.
Also for the U.S., Simi Hamilton placed 42nd and Noah Hoffman was 82nd out of 106. Lenny Valjas did not start.