If there was ever a time for the Svein Tuft award, today was the day. Actually, I am thinking of changing the name of the award.
In case you missed it this afternoon — and there was some other big news today about some kind of hockey game that was going on in Vancouver — Devon Kershaw finished fifth in the men's 50 km mass start event in cross country.
The 50 km race is considered the event of the Olympics and always has a star-studded field. Finishing ahead of Kershaw were defending world champion Petter Northug of Norway (bib 1 in the photo above), with his fourth medal of these games; Axel Teichmann of Germany (6), with his second; and Johan Olsson of Sweden (18), with his third. Kershaw (28) finished 1.6 seconds behind the winner (Northug), in a photo finish for fourth place with Tobias Angerer of Germany (19), a four-time Olympic medallist and the 2009 world championship bronze medallist in this event.
Canada had never finished better than Kaare Engstad's 16th-place in the 50 km in 1932.
Immediately after the two-hours-plus race, Kershaw commented that to finish one and a half seconds behind the Olympic champion "stings." I hope the sting has worn off by now, because this is a performance to be congratulated, not bemoaned. The whole men's cross country team has shown this week that it is a contender on the international stage, and Kershaw's result was a great finale to a week full of milestones.