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Canada's Devon Kershaw wins bronze in men's World Cup cross-country sprint

Canada’s Devon Kershaw raced to his second consecutive bronze medal Thursday in the men’s freestyle sprint at a cross-country skiing World Cup meet.

The 29-year-old from Sudbury, Ont., dominated his quarter-final and semifinal heats before finishing just 0.6 seconds behind winner Teodor Peterson of Sweden in the final. Peterson clocked three minutes 8.4 seconds to beat Norway’s Anders Gloeersen by 0.1 seconds on a 1.5-kilometre course near the Luzhniki Olympic Stadium, just six kilometres west of the Kremlin.

“My goal today was to just get to the front in each heat and I thought that would be the key to winning,” Kershaw said. “My body is shocking me every day. It was a long cold day, but I felt great again and it was a super solid race today.”

Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., finished ninth, while Toronto’s Len Valjas was 12th.

Kershaw, who won bronze in last week’s 15-kilometre classic-ski race in Estonia, powered his way to the front while approaching the second of two man-made bridges and led the pack into the final straightaway before being edged out at the finish.

“You should never be disappointed with a podium at a World Cup, but I am a little disappointed because I really felt like I was going to win,” Kershaw said. “The body is so good right now and I just always seem to be in that zone when the race is on.

“Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy, but right now I just feel like racing is a sanctuary for me and I feel so present.”

Defending World Cup champion Justyna Kowalczyk won the women’s event in 3:39.9 for her fourth straight victory. The Russian duo of Natalia Korosteleva and Anastasia Dotsenko were 0.1 and 0.2 seconds behind for second and third respectively.

“I’m really happy I’ve won this race,” Kowalczyk said. “But conditions were really tough.”

Daria Gaiazova of Banff, Alta., finished 22nd, while Perianne Jones of Almonte, Ont., was 24th.

Kowalczyk overtook Marit Bjoergen at the top of the overall World Cup standings after 24 races. The Norwegian, who is skipping events in Russia because of the cold, is 38 points behind. Men’s overall leader Dario Cologna of Switzerland is also not competing.

Kikkan Randall of the United States, who missed out on the final heat by 0.1 seconds in the semifinals, remained top of the sprint World Cup standings by 109 points from Natalia Matveeva of Russia after nine races. Kowalczyk is next, a further 38 points back.

With his first win this season, Peterson moved into the top 10 in the overall standings and overtook Alexey Petukhov of Russia to be No. 1 in the sprint after nine races. Petukhov is 37 points behind. Cologna is 86 back from Peterson.

The World Cup continues with freestyle mass start and skiathlon races this weekend in Demino, about 300 kilometres north of Moscow.

With files from The Associated Press