World champion cross-country skier Devon Kershaw announces retirement

Canada's Devon Kershaw skis during World Cup cross country skiing men's 15km event in Canmore, Alta., Friday, March 11, 2016.(Jeff McIntosh/CP)

CANMORE, Alta. — Cross-country skier Devon Kershaw has retired after producing Canadian breakthroughs in the sport.

Kershaw, from Sudbury, Ont., and Alex Harvey became the first Canadian men to win world championship gold in 2011 when they finished first in the team pursuit in Oslo, Norway.

In a sport traditionally dominated by Scandinavian men, Kershaw won a career 14 World Cup medals, including three gold, and ranked No. 2 in the overall standings in 2012.

"It has been 15 great years chasing my dreams in a sport that I absolutely love, but I have a wife and a 15-month-old daughter now, and it is just getting harder and harder to be away," Kershaw said Wednesday in a statement from Cross Country Canada.

The 35-year-old lives in Norway with his wife, former skier Kristin Stoermer Steira, and daughter Asta.

Kershaw’s World Cup bronze in 2006 — just the second time in history a Canadian man had stood on the podium — surprised everyone.

"Nobody believed it was possible for Canadian men to be contenders on the World Cup," Kershaw said. "The world didn’t believe it, and the Canadian cross-country ski community by and large didn’t believe it."

Kershaw blazed a trail for Harvey, a skier from Saint-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., who won a world title in the men’s 50k in 2017.

"Devon was like a big brother for me," Harvey said. "He showed me the path of excellence in our sport from the day I joined the World Cup team.

"It’s been a great journey for us. Watching Devon dominate the world of cross-country skiing in 2012 really opened the flood gates for me, and it definitely broke the glass ceiling on the overall World Cup podium for a North American man."

Kershaw raced in his fourth Winter Olympics in February. His goal was to get a Canadian man on the Olympic podium and make history, whether it be himself or a teammate.

Kershaw came agonizingly close in 2010, placing fourth in the team sprint with Harvey. Kershaw also missed the podium in the men’s 50k by less than a second.

"After skiing for two hours, and to finish two seconds from a gold medal, and less than a second from a bronze in 2010 really was a heartbreak, but I did believe I’d have another chance," said Kershaw.

"We went to Sochi with the strongest men’s team ever. We were all in good shape and winning medals leading up to those Games. We were ready, but everything that could go wrong unfortunately did.

"I wanted nothing more than to see a Canadian male stand on the Olympic podium while I was skiing. It is heartbreaking to know I won’t be a part of that, but I know I have to be proud of what we all accomplished as a team."

Kershaw wants to stay involved in cross-country skiing, whether it be in Canada or Norway, and also intends to go to university.

"I need to get back to school and continue my education, so my mom can sleep well at night," Kershaw said.

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