February 23, 2013, Val Di Fiemme, Ita (ISN) – Fresh off a thrilling bronze-medal finish, Alex Harvey skied to 13th place in the men’s 30-kilometre skiathlon on Saturday at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
The 24-year-old of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. clocked a time of one hour, 13 minutes, 25.4 seconds (1:13:25.4) in the men’s skiathlon which combines 15 kilometres of classic skiing before athletes enter a transition zone to change equipment for 15 more kilometres of skate-skiing.
“It was really fast snow conditions, and the pace was pretty easy with a big, big group of guys the whole way,” said Harvey. “There was two guys wide in the skate and sometimes three so it was really tactical and slow with nowhere to go. We were stepping on each others skis and poles, and getting tangled so it was really hard to move up.”
Harvey, along with teammate Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., skied in the middle of the large group of about 50 athletes with Graham Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, at the back of the main pack until the final lap of the classic leg. Harvey fought his way into the top-10 in the seventh of eight laps around the Nordic highways of Val di Fiemme before dropping back where he could not find the optimal position to set up a charge for the podium.
“It was really hard to move up in the skating and you had to fight for every centimetre out there,” said Harvey. “You just had to be in the right position to move up and I was boxed in with nowhere to go for the big dash to the finish line. I moved up a few places, but it wasn’t enough.”
The game of cat and mouse opened up when Switzerland’s Dario Cologna broke the pack in the final lap, and sprinted to his first World title with a time of 1:13:09.3. Norway grabbed the next two spots on the podium. Martin Johnsrud Sundby was second at 1:13:11.1, while Sjur Roethe clocked-in at 1:13:11.3 for the bronze.
The Canadian bulldog, Ivan Babikov, dropped out of the top-30 in the skate leg, placing 32nd (1:14:03.0). Graham Nishikawa finished 52nd (1:17:18.9).
“I was feeling really good until the skate, and then my legs felt so heavy,” said Babikov. “I am a little disappointed. That is normally my strength, but I don’t know what happened. I just didn’t feel good out there.”
Harvey will now take the evening to recover in time for Sunday’s main event where he will join forces with Devon Kershaw in an effort to successfully defend their World Championship title in the team sprint.
“I am feeling super good. I felt in complete control and comfortable all day,” added Harvey. “I’m really looking forward to getting out there tomorrow with Devon to see if we can’t defend that title.”
Earlier in the day the Norwegians dominated the women’s race, grabbing the top-four spots in the 15-kilometre skiathlon. Marit Bjoergen grabbed her second-straight title of the week with a time of 39:04.4. Therese Johaug was second at 39:07.8, while Heidi Weng placed third at 39:13.3.
Brittany Webster, of Caldeon, Ont., was the lone Canadian to finish the race, placing 57th at 45:25.0. Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, did not finish.
The Nordic World Ski Championships continue on Sunday with the men’s and women’s team sprints.
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