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    • Emily Nishikawa Climbs to 30th as Tour de Ski Heads into Final Weekend

      January 3, 2019

       OBERSTDORF, Ger.— Emily Nishikawa will be the lone Canadian to head into the final weekend of the seven-race Tour de Ski sitting in 30th place following Thursday’s fifth stage in Oberstdorf, Germany.
      Each of the three Canadian men – Alex Harvey, Len Valjas and Bob Thompson – have decided not to start the final two stages in the nine-day cross-country ski trek through Europe.
      Starting the women’s 10-kilometre skate-ski pursuit race in 34th spot behind the leaders based on times from the opening four stages, the 29-year-old Nishikawa continues to gain valuable experience in her first start on the Tour de Ski while picking up precious spots in the overall standings.
      The two-time Olympian from Whitehorse grabbed the final spot in the top-30 with a time of 33:47.3 despite falling midway through the race.
      “I felt really, really good today. I was in a big wave start and was skiing with a good group, but in the second lap a girl in front of me fell on the downhill into the stadium so I lost a lot of time,” said Nishikawa. “Even after a big crash, I felt really strong. I got up and skied well. I tried to get back onto the pack, but they were gone. I was happy to get through a few more girls.”
      Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg set the time to beat at 26:21.2. Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva skied to second place with a time of 26:51.6, while Jessica Diggins, of the United States, snagged the final spot on the podium with a time of 27:33.8.
      With 39 women remaining as the ultimate test in Nordic skiing charges into Val di Fiemme, Italy, Nishikawa will be looking for a solid weekend of racing in her final two starts.
      “I just want to stay on my feet and hope for good results,” said Nishikawa. “I am feeling really good and hope to have a good 10 kilometre classic race. I have never done the hill climb before, so I have no idea what to expect but I’m looking forward to it.”
      Each of the three Canadian men have decided not to race the final weekend in order to get some much-needed rest following a tough 15-kilometre skate-ski pursuit race.
      Starting the fifth stage in 14th spot two minutes, 27 seconds behind the leaders, Alex Harvey of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., dropped to 22nd with a time of 38:19.1.
      The 30-year-old Harvey skied in a chase group with many of the top performers at the Tour de Ski for the first four laps, but then drifted back in the pack for the final five kilometres to the finish.
      “I just tried to go with the group I was in. We were making some good time on the group in front of us, and made my way into sixth place, but then got dropped midway through the fifth lap and completely died,” said Harvey, who was third overall in last year’s Tour de Ski.
      “I am not going to race the weekend. I have had a lot of distance races and I need to take some time to recharge.”
      Toronto’s Len Valjas finished 53rd on Thursday with a time of 43:18.1. Bob Thompson, of Thunder Bay, Ont., skied to 55th spot at 44:485.
      Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo finished on top of the pack with a time of 35:07.5. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov clocked-in at 35:07.9 for second place, while Alexander Bolshunov, also of Russia, placed third with a time of 36:15.7.
      The 13th annual Tour de Ski consists of seven races over nine days in three countries. The featured event on the Nordic calendar – outside of the Olympics and World Championships – tests some of the most physically and mentally fit athletes in the world to determine the king and queen of cross-country skiing when they cross the finish line of the Tour, ending with a 425-metre climb to the top of Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme, Italy on January 6.
      CCC 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 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Swix and Lanctôt Sports– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us at www.cccski.com.