by Chris Dornan
January 18, 2014, SZKLARSKA POREBA, Pol. (ISN) – Alex Harvey picked up where he left off at the prestigious Tour de Ski – back on top of the World Cup cross-country ski podium.
Less than three weeks until the opening of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. native is rounding into top form picking up his fourth World Cup medal in the last month – this time leading the world’s best in a skate-sprint race on Saturday in Szklarska Poreba, Poland.
“The conditions were getting icy and a little dangerous so I knew I had to get out in front. I wasn’t afraid of being tired because I knew I was in great shape so my tactic was to stay out in front today. I had no choice,” said Harvey. “The final was filled with pure sprinters, but I wasn’t afraid of them or getting tired today because I knew the shape is there.”
It was the third World Cup victory in addition to his World Championship title for the 25-year-old Canuck in his incredible six-year career on the elite squad. Recently named to his second Olympic team, Harvey now has a total of 12 World Cup and World Championship podium finishes. He captured a gold, silver and bronze on the recent Tour de Ski over the holiday season.
“It is great to get another podium. I felt pretty good coming back from the Tour de Ski, but you just never know. This race confirms things for me,” said Harvey, who finished third in the overall sprint standings on the Tour de Ski. “I know the Scandinavian countries weren’t here toda,y but the Russians have been the ones to beat in sprinting and I was able to do that today. The skis were great today, and I’m confident with the Olympics coming up.”
Harvey was joined on the podium by Josef Wenzl in second place, while Baptiste Gaillard, of France, held on for the bronze medal.
Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., also qualified for the heats with the fastest 30 qualifiers, but was eliminated in the opening round and placed 18th. Only the top-two athletes in each heat advance to the next round.
Meanwhile, Perianne Jones took advantage of being the final qualifier for the heats to have the skate-sprint race of her life. The 28-year-old Olympian, from Almonte, Ont., was drawn up against the world’s top women’s sprinter, Kikkan Randall, in both her heats. After advancing past the quarter-final round, Jones’ day came to an end when she was fifth in the semifinal heats.
American Kikkan Randall won the women’s race. Germany’s Denise Herrmann was second, while Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan grabbed the bronze medal.
Canada’s Daria Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., placed 23rd.
The World Cup continues on Sunday in Poland with the team sprint races.
Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 58,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas,. Canadian Pacific and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at www.cccski.com.
Complete Results: http://www.fis-ski.com/cross-country/
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., CAN; 2. Josef Wenzl, GER; 3. Baptiste Gros, FRA; 4. Cyril Gaillard, FRA; 5. Martin Jaeger, SUI
Other Canadian Results:
18. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont.
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Kikkan Randall, USA; 2. Denise Herrmann, GER; 3. Vesna Fabjan, SLO; 4. Sylwia Jaskowiec, POL; 5. Jessica Diggins, USA
10. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont.; 23. Daria Gaiazova, Banff, Alta.