CANMORE, Alta. — Emily Nishikawa and Devon Kershaw battled through difficult conditions to climb onto the top of the women's and men's podiums in the cross-country classic-ski interval start races on Tuesday at the 2017 Ski Nationals.
Fresh off competing in front of more than 50,000 strong at the World Cup Finals in Quebec City, two of the veterans of the National Ski Team handily won their first national titles of 2017.
"It was so hard, hot and the conditions were vicious," said Kershaw. "I cramped up with five kilometres to go. It was a really hard day. But this is my home. I love Canmore and I think it is important for the kids to see that even after a hard World Cup season you should come and support the national championships."
The 34-year-old Kershaw, from Sudbury, Ont., won the men's 15-kilometre race with a time of 45 minutes 5.3 seconds.
He shared the podium with two American skiers from the University of Denver. Dag Frode Trolleboe was second at 45:49.9, while Moritz Madlener skied to the bronze with a time of 45:52.1. Graeme Killick, from Fort McMurray, Alta., was the second best Canadian male with a time of 46:14.5. Davis Palmer from the Black Jack Ski Club clocked the third-best Canadian time at 46:27.8.
Preparing to represent Canada at this fourth Olympic Winter Games next February, Kershaw wrapped up another memorable campaign where he was a member of Canada's first-ever 4x7.5-kilometre bronze-medal winning relay squad at a World Cup stop in Ulricehamn, Sweden. He also posted his best individual result in more than two years when he finished 10th in a skiathlon race in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Nishikawa, from Whitehorse, won the women's 10-kilometre classic-ski race in 29:07.6.
"It was great to be back racing today in Canmore and see so many friendly faces out there," said the 2014 Olympian. "It was tough racing today, having raced three races last weekend in Quebec and then travel, but I was so happy to be able to race.
"I had great skis and was able to have another solid race. It is always an honour to win a national title. I love racing at Nationals."
Mary Rose, of the United States, posted the second-fastest time at 30:32.4.
Nishikawa's World Championship teammate, Katherine Stewart-Jones of Chelsea, Que., was the next best Canadian finishing third overall with a time of 30:35.5. Quebec's Frederique Vezina was the third-best Canadian in the women's field, stopping the clock at 30:43.6.
The Canadian Press
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