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CALGARY -- Canadas cross-country ski team is poised to make Olympic history next month. While Canadian women have stood on the Olympic podium in the sport, a Canadian man never has. Led by Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., and Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., that drought could end on the Psekhako Ridge in Sochi, Russia. The hard goal of Canadas cross-country team is to claim at least two medals in Sochi. Its the men who have the best chance at winning them this time. "I really feel if this team doesnt get two medals Ill feel a bit of disappointment or maybe we did something wrong," Canadian head coach Justin Wadsworth said. "That doesnt mean were incapable of four or five medals. "This is an amazing team. We could do better than two medals. We could blow other teams out of the water if everything comes together." The 11 skiers wholl represent Canada in Sochi were introduced Tuesday at an elementary school with six being present for the announcement. Harvey, Kershaw, Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., Daria Gaiazova of Banff, Alta., and Perianne Jones of Almonte, Ont., were in Europe and en route to a World Cup event in Poland. Chandra Crawford and Jesse Cockney of Canmore, Torontos Lenny Valjas, Graeme Killick of Fort McMurray, Alta., Heidi Widmer of Banff and Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse will join their teammates in Italy next week for pre-Games training. Cockney, Killick, Widmer and Nishikawa claimed their Olympic berths at last weeks trials in Canmore. They, along with Valjas, will make their Olympic debuts while the rest of the team has previous Games experience. Harvey won two races and finished in the medals four times in this seasons Tour de Ski, which is a gruelling series of 10 races spread over 16 days and three countries. Harvey and Kershaw finished first and second, respectively, in the series opening race. "I feel like our team is in a really good place," Wadsworth said. "We started out slowly this year. The results werent good early and weve built and built. I feel like were in a place where were building still in confidence. We havent peaked out in any way shape or form. "I feel like the whole team is starting to rise and its how we wanted to time it." Wadsworth is married to Canadas Beckie Scott, whose bronze at the 2002 Winter Games was eventually upgraded to gold when two Russians ahead of her were disqualified for doping. Scott was the first North American woman to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. Scott and Sara Renner combined for team sprint silver in 2006 before Scott retired. Canadas cross-country skiers were shut out of the medals at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., although the men posted seven top-10 finishes. Harvey and Kershaw were fourth in the team sprint and Babikov fifth in the 30-kilometre event. Kershaw was fifth and an agonizing half a second from the podium in the 50-kilometre event. Harvey and Kershaw won world championship gold in 2011 in the team sprint. The mens sprints are fertile ground for Canada, but Babikov is also a contender in distance events. Those three and Valjas also give the Canadian squad a strong mens relay team. Medal prospects are thinner on the womens side, although Gaiazova and Jones won World Cup bronze in a team sprint in Sochi last year. Crawford, the 2006 Olympic womens sprint champion, is a wildcard. The womens sprint Feb. 11 will be a skate-ski race again as it was in 2006. The womens sprint in 2010 was a classic race and not Crawfords forte. The 30-year-old is more in her element in skating races than in classic, the striding technique requiring more finesse and less power. But Crawford has struggled first with injuries and then burnout since 2006, to the point where she cut her 2012-13 European racing season short and returned to Canmore. She trained on her own last summer instead of joining the national team at training camps. The 30-year-old isnt shouldering the same weight of expectation she did prior to 2010. "Its so different than Vancouver. Its not our Games. We have to . . . there was more of a have-to feeling," Crawford said. "Just the amount of interest was hard to process as well. "This feels like a real gift and I really appreciate the opportunity." Cockney is the first athlete of Inuit descent on the Olympic cross-country team since sisters Sharon and Shirley Firth raced in their fourth Winter Games in 1984. Cockneys father, Angus, is Inuit. Cockney was born in Yellowknife and learned to ski there before his family moved to Canmore. "Its great to have a strong connection to distinct people," the 26-year-old said. "You kind of feel a little bit more unique and for sure a different experience growing up. "My dad was a cross-country skier at a high level when he was younger and he got my sister and I involved when we were quite young. We had ski trails behind our house when we lived in Yellowknife all the way to the nordic centre. "A lot of dark, cold days in Yellowknife, cross-country skiing in the middle of winter, but that hardened us up and made us stronger." Killick beat decorated Paralympian Brian McKeever out for a spot on the Olympic squad by winning the 30-kilometre event and finishing second to McKeever in the 15k at trials. McKeever was eighth in the 30k. McKeever, from Canmore, is a legally blind skier and winner of 10 Paralympic medals who qualified for Canadas 2010 Olympic team. He was poised to become the first Paralympian to compete in a Winter Olympics, but the teams coaches decided to enter four other skiers in the 50k and not McKeever. The 2014 Olympic cross-country ski competition opens Feb. 8 with the womens 15k race. Custom Orlando Magic Jerseys . Austin Watson, Scott Ford, Filip Forsberg and Mark Van Guilder had the other goals for the Admirals (30-21-12). 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Anderson shook off some unusually poor shooting and hit two clutch 3-pointers in overtime that carried the New Orleans Pelicans to a 111-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.Scott Dixons teammates spent the final three hours of the Rolex 24 at Daytona raving about his talent while watching him seal a victory in one of the most prestigious endurance races in the world.The three-time IndyCar champion would take none of the credit.Dixon, who carried the heaviest load for Chip Ganassi Racings four-driver lineup, insisted Sundays win was a team effort that included many people from Ganassis sprawling organization. But theres a reason Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray, Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan and NASCARs newest hotshot, Kyle Larson, didnt spend too much time worrying about the outcome during Dixons lengthy final stint in the car.They knew The Iceman would get the job done.Its really hard to appreciate the talent that guys have from other series until you race with them, McMurray said. Its crazy the pace that Scott is able to have in the car. I think Scott is one of the most talented guys in the field. Hes an incredible driver.The praise also came from Larson, who improved from his underwhelming debut last season by learning from Dixon, and Kanaan, who has raced against Dixon for 14 seasons.I got beaten by Scott for a long time, Kanaan said. Hes a very, very smart and complete race car driver. He can adapt to anything. Its unbelievable how he can make a bad car still be fast, and I think thats something that I try to learn from him every time I watch him.There was no need for Dixon to carry the team in the twice-round-the-clock race around Daytona International Speedway. The Ganassi group brought a pair of strong cars to the race and both set the pace early.Had the clutch not broken in the homestretch on the No. 01, that Scott Pruett-led car might have been racing for the win in the final hour.The Dixon-led No. 02 star car had no major issues, and, still in contention after daybreak, it became clear theyd use the New Zealander to close out the race. Larson drove an abbreviated stint and stayed in the car only long enough to make Dixon eligible to finish the race.IMSA rules state a driver can only be in the car for a total of four total hours in a six-hour period, and Dixon climbed in with 3 hours, 32 minutes remaining.It was a long final stint for Dixon, who drove three times for more than seven hours during the 24-hour race.dddddddddddd. His task in that final stretch was to conserve fuel, maintain the pace and follow strategy to give Ganassi its record sixth victory in the race.He did it with what appeared to be ease, and seemed fresh and ready to drive another three hours as he celebrated in victory lane.Its not easy whatsoever. I feel the load just as much as any of these guys, Dixon said. Pressure is what you make of it, and as long as you get out of the car and you know youve done the best that you could, you should be happy with that. I think for all of us here this weekend, the best that we did was good enough to get the victory.Dixon, so selfless and so content for so many years in the shadow of famous former teammate Dario Franchitti, cares far more about final results than accolades.But Dixon has earned any praise heaped his way for steadily building one of the most prolific careers in open-wheel history. Hes won three IndyCar titles, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 and his 35 career victories tie him for fifth on the all-time list with Bobby Unser. The only drivers ahead of Dixon are named Foyt, Andretti and Unser.Hes won the Rolex twice, and as he begins his 14th season with Ganassi, hes the longest tenured driver in the temperamental owners history.Dixon is also the only active driver to finish in the top three in points every year since 2006. Its that streak — he lost three consecutive championships to teammate Franchitti, who also won a pair of Indy 500s in that span — that has likely led to him often being overlooked.Ganassi team manager Mike Hull, who has been with Dixon his entire IndyCar and sports car career, said the driver gets plenty of appreciation within his organization.Hes one of those people that have enormous ability, has terrific passion, wants to make himself better every day, Hull said. Hes not complacent with where he is presently. Ill guarantee you, hell come back here to race again, and hell want to improve himself over where he just finished today.Hes very direct with what he wants with his race car, and then hes unselfish. He gives back. The younger drivers have a great mentor in Scott Dixon. Cheap Jerseys From China NFL Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale NFL White Jerseys Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys China NFL Jerseys White Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap NFL Womens Jerseys ' ' '
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