Two-time Olympian Drew Goldsack of Red Deer teamed up with Lenny Valjas of Toronto and posted his best-ever World Cup finish with a fifth-place result in cross-country ski team sprint races at Dusseldorf, Germany on Sunday.
With world champions Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey on the sidelines battling illness, the 30-year-old Goldsack and emerging sprint star Valjas, 23, added another dimension to an already talented lineup of Canadian sprinters.
The relentless duo finished second in their semifinal heat on the short and fast course laid out alongside the Rhine River.
Advancing to the finals with the top-10 teams, the Canadians stayed out of trouble at the back of the pack on the tight course in downtown Düsseldorf.
Athletes each complete three trips around the slow, windy course covered in dirty snow from the rain and wind, tagging off to their partner between loops.
Doing their best to avoid the carnage on the opening two laps, Goldsack moved the Canucks into the middle of the pack as Norway and Sweden pushed the pace before the final.
Goldsack handed off to Valjas for the anchor leg, but the lanky Canuck was unable to respond to the surge to the finish put on by the front-runners.
“Things haven’t been going well so far this year, but today is a sign that things are turning around for me. I was definitely feeling better than I have been over the last few weeks,” said Goldsack.
“Len and I make a good duo. Len is dangerous down the stretch, and I am able to start well and make moves in the later laps. Our strengths really complement each other.”
Sweden’s Jesper Modin and Teodor Peterson won the men’s race.
— Chris Dornan, Cross Country Canada