This article was originally published on the Cross-Country Ski Canada website.
Alex Harvey is rounding into top form just days before the start of the 2015 Nordic World Ski Championships after capturing the silver in a classic-sprint race at World Cup stop in Oestersund, Sweden on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Harvey finessed his way through the winding track that featured quick decents, tight corners and steep climbs. A staggered start that had athletes heading straight up hill, Harvey gained momentum on the pack in each heat during his second trip around 630-metre track.
“My skis felt a little slippery at the start so I was happy to just qualify, but then we made some adjustments,” said Harvey. “They got better and better as we went through the rounds. It started with a quick uphill which is not really my strength so I was always in fifth or sixth until the second lap I started making some ground.”
Starting on the inside lane, Harvey remained patient in the back of the pack as he did in the opening two rounds in the head-to-head heats before turning on the jets and bolting to the podium.
It was the St-Ferreol-les Neiges, Que. resident’s second silver medal of the season. He also won a silver at the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany in January.
“It was a really good day all around. I just came back from altitude so it is a bit of a toss up as to how the body will respond from that,” said Harvey. “This is great for my confidence. I think I have a little more to go, but I’m feeling close to 100 per cent as we get closer to the World Championships.”
Harvey was not able to pass Finn Haagen down the finishing stretch. The Norwegian won the gold medal, and shared the podium with his countryman, Timo Andre Bakken, who hung on for the bronze.
It was a great day for Toronto’s Len Valjas who also qualified for the heats and finished 13th. Competing in one of the fastest quarter-final heats, the lanky Canuck took advantage of a crash as the pack crested the final climb to finish third in his heats – a fraction of a second from claiming one of two luck loser positions in the semifinals.
In the women’s race, Canada’s Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., returned to the World Cup with a solid 21st place finish. Days removed from her 30th birthday, the two-time Olympian’s day came to an end after finishing fifth in her opening round heat.
Norway’s Marit Bjoergen won the women’s race. Maiken Caspersen Falla, also of Norway, was second. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson prevented the Norwegian sweep of the medals by claiming the bronze.
Two other Canadians also suited up. Jesse Cockney, of Canmore, Alta., was 75th in the men’s race. Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt, of Morin Heights, Que., qualified 55th in women’s action.
The World Cup continues on Sunday in Sweden with a 10- and 15-kilometre skate-ski race.
Complete Results: www.fis-ski.com
Men’s Results: http://data.fis-ski.com/pdf/2015/CC/3262/2015CC3262RL.pdf
Women’s Results: http://data.fis-ski.com/pdf/2015/CC/3259/2015CC3259RL.pdf