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    • Ivan Babikov Hammers into Seventh Spot to Lead Canadians at Cross-Country Skiing World Cup

      December 10, 2011

      DAVOS, Sui.—Ivan Babikov put down what he claims is his best performance in six years to finish seventh in a 30-kilometre skate cross-country ski race in Davos, Switzerland on Saturday.

      The 31-year-old Babikov, who has a handful of top-10’s to go along with a World Cup victory on the final stage of the Tour de Ski in 2009, fought through the challenging Davos track to clock a time of one hour, nine minutes, 33.2 seconds (1:09:33.2).

      “That was my best since Canmore in 2005. The team worked really well on my skis and I felt a lot of support this week,” said Babikov. “I started hard and tried to hold it to the end. I felt I had good control until the last lap when my muscle started cramping. For sure I’m happy with this today.”

      The relentless distance skate-ski specialist from Canmore, Alta. was in contention for the podium for most of the day skiing in the fourth-through-sixth position in each of his four trips around the challenging 7.5-kilometre loop of the individual start race.

      “It is typical Davos course that is super hard grinding on the climbs going out and then on the way back is downhill, but you have to continue working all of the way,” said Babikov. “I just wanted to keep my head in the right place and keep calm. I feel very confident in these distance races because I don’t have the super max speed of the other guys but it is coming.”

      Norway’s Petter Northug set the time to beat at 1:07:43.8 to win the gold medal. Maurice Manificat, of France, claimed second place at 1:08:35.2, while Lukas Bauer, of the Czech Republic, grabbed the bronze with a time of 1:08:43.3.

      The leader of the Haywood NorAm circuit in 2011, Graham Nishikawa of Whitehorse, was the only other Canadian to hit the start line in Davos on Saturday. The 28-year-old had one of his best-ever World Cup results, placing 34th with a time of 1:10:58.8.

      Canada will suit up a hungry team of sprinters on Sunday in Davos for a skate-sprint race.

      Meanwhile, over in Sjusjoen, Norway, Canada’s Mark Arendz fired his way to the silver medal position of the podium in men’s standing division at the season-opening IPC World Cup biathlon race.

      The 21-year-old Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I. battled his way back into the medals after missing two shots in his first of two rounds of shooting in the 7.5-kilometre sprint to finish with a time of 22:30.9.

      “It was a great start to the season and I’m definitely happy,” said Arendz. “I’ve been skiing really well and it is a sign of all the hard training that I have been doing. This was the toughest course I have been on with lots of long hills, but I was quite relaxed today and it is nice to get the first race out of the way.”

      Arendz was joined on the podium by two Russian athletes. Kirill Mikhaylov shot clean to post a golden time of 21:52.8. Vladislav Lekomtcev was also perfect in his two bouts of shooting to claim the bronze with a time of 22;35.6.

      It has been a whirlwind year for the rising star on the IPC World Cup circuit. A 2010 Paralympian, the young Canuck had a breakthrough season last year where he finished second overall on the elite para-nordic circuit with six medals and three victories.

      Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 55,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Teck Resources Ltd., Canadian Pacific, and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at www.cccski.com

      Complete World Cup Results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&event_id=30402
      Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
      1. Petter Northug, NOR, 1:07:43.8; 2. Maurice Manificat, FRA, 1:08:35.2; 3. Lukas Bauer, CZE, 1:08:43.3; 4. Marcus Hellner, SWE, 1:08:55.6; 5. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 1:09:03.5.
      Canadian Results:
      7. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 1:09:33.2; 34. Graham Nishikawa, Whitehorse, 1:10:58.8

      Complete IPC World Cup Biathlon Results: http://www.ipc-nordicskiing.org/Results/index.html?