cross country_canada

December 13, 2012, CANMORE, Alta. (ISN) – Alex Harvey is edging his way back to the World Cup podium in cross-country skiing.

The 24-year-old phenom, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., finished as the top Canuck in 11th spot in a men’s 15-kilometre classic-ski mass start race under brilliant race conditions to kick off the 2012 Alberta World Cup in Canmore, Alta. Harvey clocked a time of 41:35.0 on the punishing Nordic track.

“It was hard the whole way today,” said Harvey. “I didn’t feel that good in my warm-up so I kind of expected it to be a hard day. It was a fight all the way.”

Feeling the grind of one of the most difficult Nordic venues in the world on the first climb out of the stadium, Harvey drifted the world’s best on the uphills and found his opportunities on the downhills and flats to power his way back into theelite pack with thousands of passionate Canadian ski fans cheering him along the way.

“I didn’t blow up at the end or anything, but I just couldn’t go any faster,” said Harvey, who added he is excited for the weekend races after the team just returned to Canmoreafter a hard day of altitude training earlier this week. “I had to be smart today. I have to be happy with that result because it is my best result of the season. We just got back down from altitude so the body should be adapted by now. I’m really looking forward to the 30 kilometre.”

Germany’s Tim Tscharnke was the first to cross the finish line in the men’s race, stopping the clock at 41:14.8. Norway’s Sjur Roeth skied to the silver medal at 41:19.6, while Germany’s Tobias Angerer found his way back onto the World Cup podium for the first time this year after posting a third-place time of 41:20.6.

Harvey’s World Cup teammates, Devon Kershaw and Ivan Babikov, joined him in the top-20 in Canmore. Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was 17th at 41:59.4, while Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., placed 20th with a time of 42:13.9. Toronto’s Len Valjas squeaked into the top-25 with a time of 42:35.3 – good enough for 24th.

Other Canadian men in the top-40 included: Graham Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, in 38th (43:37.5); Calgary’s Kevin Sandau placed 39th (43:38.3); and Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., was 40th (43:42.6).

Earlier in the day,Brittany Webster led 14 Canadian women around a 10-kilometre classic-ski race. The Caledon, Ont. resident clocked a time of 31:40.6 to finish in 38th spot.

“I was pretty nervous coming in, and it was tough today,” said Webster. “It is one of the most challenging courses in the world and you have to be careful not to go to hard on the climbs. It was not a stellar race, but it got better in the second and third lap.”

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk captured the first women’s title of the week at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Kowalczyk powered her way through the grueling climbs to clock a golden time of 28:58.4. Finland’s Anne Kylloenen was second at 29:12.8, while Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla locked up the bronze with a time of 29:26.6.

The World Cup continues on Saturday with the skate-ski sprint races. The race can be viewed live on and CBC Bold, December 15 from 2:45-4:30 p.m. EST. The finals can also be seen on CBC TV from 5-6 p.m. EST. French coverage of Saturday’s race can be viewed on TVA from 2:20-4:20 p.m. EST.

Meanwhile, across the pond Canada’s Para-Nordic skiers hit the start line for the second race of the season at the IPC World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland.

Mark Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., placed 11th in the men’s standing 10-kilometre skate-ski race. The 22-year-old Paralympian, who is a specialist in the biathlon disciplines, posted a time of 26:50.2.

Russia’s Rushan Minnegulov finished on top with a time of 24:13.4.

Colette Bourgonje, of Saskatoon, finished ninth in the women’s 2.5-kilometre sit-ski race with a time of 8:33.8. The race was won by Germany’s Andrea Eskau who stopped the clock at 7:55.6.

Chris Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., finished 15th in the men’s five-kilometre sit-ski race at 15:20.2. Russia’s Roman Petushkov won the men’s division at 14:09.7.

“It was a tough day and mentally we just weren’t ready to kill it today,” said Robin McKeever, head coach, Canada’s Para-Nordic Team. “Mark skied pretty solid and it was a good preparation race for Saturday’s biathlon.”

Complete Results:;event_id=31849

Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:

1. Tim Tscharnke, GER, 41:14.8
2. Sjur Roethe, NOR, 41:19.6
3. Tobias Angerer, GER, 41:20.6
4. Evgeniy Belov, RUS, 41:21.0
5. Giorgio Di Centa, ITA, 41:23.5.

Top-40 Canadian Results:

11. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 41:35.0
20. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 42:13.9
24. Len Valjas, Toronto, 42:35.3; 38. Graham Nishikawa, Whitehorse, 43:37.5
39. Kevin Sandau, Calgary, 43:38.3; 40. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 43:42.6

Top-5 Women and Canadian Results

1. Justyna Kowalczyk, POL, 28:58.4
2. Anne Kylloenen, FIN, 29:12.8
3. Maiken Caspersen Falla, NOR, 29:26.6
4. Vibeke Skofterud, NOR, 29:28.1
5.Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR, 29:28.5.

Top-40 Canadian Results:

38. Brittany Webster, Caledon, Ont., 31:40.6