Canadian flags waved in downtown Oslo on Wednesday evening, after Canada’s men’s sprint team won an historic gold medal in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships (Ski-VM) at Holmenkollen. The Canadians beat Norwegian skiing star Petter Northug, and called it “fantastic.”
It was the first time a men’s sprint team had even made it onto the winners’ platform at a world championships, and then they won gold as well. “It’s amazing,” said Canadian team member Alex Harvey. “It was so loud,” he added after crossing the finish line, referring to the famously cheering crowds at Holmenkollen events. “It was like being at the Stanley Cup (in hockey), and for a Canadian to say that, it’s fantastic.”
Harvey and fellow Canadian Devon Kershaw were up against Northug and Ola Vigen Hattestad from Ørje, on the southeastern Norwegian border to Sweden. “I was leading the last 20 meters, just to make that clear, so I would have gladly taken the gold,” Hattestad told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) afterwards. “But it’s just to congratulate Canada.”
The finals of the men’s sprint were even, tight and tough. Northug said later that he shouldn’t have changed tracks in an effort to get around Kershaw. “I had to switch again, and then he got a few meters over the top,” Northug said at a press conference after the race.
Kershaw and Harvey were thrilled to jump up on the winners’ platform just after the race, and receive their winners’ bouquets. “We had read that Norway has won more than 100 gold medals in the world championships, and this was our first ever … so we are very happy,” Kershaw told NRK.
Russia won the bronze medal in the sprint event, with team members Alexander Panzjinskij and Nikita Krujukov later delivering a special greeting to the crowd at the medals ceremony. They were clearly happy with their own medal, while the Canadians looked very proud indeed as their national anthem played for the tens of thousands gathered in downtown Oslo for the evening ceremony.
It was the first time in several days that Norway didn’t dominate the winners’ platform. Not only did Canada take gold in the men’s team sprint, Sweden won the women’s sprint (Norway took bronze and Finland silver) and France won the men’s combined event on the new 134-meter Holmenkollen Ski Jump. Germany took both the silver and bronze medals, freezing Norway out entirely.
“I love the fact that Canada won,” wrote one Norwegian in NRK’s online forum. “The world championships should be fun, serious and open for everyone!”