Haywood RACE Report: Dasha Gaiazova 13th and Lenny Valjas 19th in Lahti

    March 4, 2012

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    The Canadian team had mixed results as qualifying took place today for the classic sprints at the Lahti Ski Games. Dasha Gaiazova was the top and only Canadian women's qualifier with an 8th place result, behind the leader Marit Bjoergen. Alysson Marshall was 37th, Perianne Jones 58th and Chandra Crawford 69th.

    For Dasha it was a strong result in her favourite event.

    Chandra had issues on the course which led to her slow qualifying time: "Was going for it so much that somehow my ski got snagged behind a banner on the downhill. Brutes!! Pumped for @ski_dash"
    Women's Qualifying Results

    On the men's side only Len Valjas qualified with a 27th place result. Alex Harvey was 44th and Devon Kershaw 51st. Emil Joensson was the top qualifier.
    Men's Qualifying Results

    After yesterday's race both Devon and Alex had commented they didn't feel they had their "top sprint speed" working yet after a small altitude camp during the World Cup break. Their results today seemed to reflect that, or a lack of receovery from the previous day's skiathlon.

    Devon Kershaw: "Well apparently Alex Harvey & I couldn't recover in time for today's sprint. #turtlespeed"

    Alex Harvey: "Bambi on ice in today's qualifier... "

    Dasha Gaiazova was seeded into the final quarterfinal, matched up with Natalia Matveeva, ranked 2nd on the Sprint World Cup.

    Dasha had a strong start, skiing head to head at the front against Heidi Weng of Norway and Matveeva. The course climbs a major hill near the start and Dasha continued in the top 3, looking to have good skis and good energy. The leading trio started to develop a little gap on the rest of the skiers, as they finished the second uphill section and started the downhill to the stadium.

    On the downhill to the stadium  Norway's Kari Gjeitnes glided back into contention, exchanging places with Weng, who slowed as they approached the flats. Matveeva maintained the pace at the front and Dasha and Gjeitnes fought for 2nd. The Norwegian had a bit of an edge and managed to qualify 2nd, leaving Dasha to claim 3rd just ahead of Fabjan of Sweden. Unfortunately it wasn't one of the fastest heats so Dasha didn't move on.

    Dasha finished 13th on the day, one of her best World Cup performances in a highly competitive field.

    For Len Valjas's heat he was up against World Cup sprint leader Teodor Peterson of Sweden. Lenny appeared to have slightly slippery skis as he climbed the first uphill, skiing at the back of the pack and having to herringbone a little earlier than the others.

    Sim Sellis of Estonia was taking the lead with Peterson matching him stride for stride. As they approached the stadium, one of the favourites Goldberg of Norway crashed out of the race, one of many falls on the day.

    Into the stadium Lenny started to make up ground and time on the leaders, but ran out of space to close the gap, finishing a close 4th just after Edin of Sweden.  Len was a second off automatically qualifying and not quick enough for a lucky loser spot in the semifinal. Len finished 19th overall.

    In the women's final, Marit Bjoergen solidified her grasp on the overall World Cup with a smart tactical victory. On the men's side Emil Joensson out lunged his team mate Peterson for the victory, as the top 3 almost crashed out on the final downhill, hairpin turn.
    Womens final results
    Men's final results

    A full press release and updates will follow with athlete and coach comments.
    Un communiqué de presse suivra sous peu dans les deux langues officielles, incluant les commentaires des athlètes et entraîneurs.