by Chris Dornan
March 16, 2014, FALUN, Swe. (ISN) – Alex Harvey put a silver lining around the best season of his career with a second-place finish in the 15-kilometre skate-ski pursuit race on Sunday at the World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden.
“I’m super stoked. That was a super nice way to end the season,” said Harvey. “I knew yesterday I had to beat one of those two guys (Sundby and Legkov) today to be in the top-three in the overall and it was game on. My skis were awesome again today. The wax techs did an awesome job. I’m so happy!”
Harvey racked up six medals including three gold, two silver and one bronze, en route to finishing third in the Overall World Cup medal count. Harvey’s previous best in the overall was sixth in 2012 – the same year Devon Kershaw had the best overall finish ever by a Canadian male in second place.
“I had kind of given up on the overall when I had to pull out of the final stage of the Tour de Ski because so many points are given in that race, but I was able to gain a lot in the last weekend,” said Harvey.
“When I grew up it was never something I thought about. My dad (Pierre) was never better than eighth in the overall. Just being on the World Cup podium was something we all dreamt of in Canada. We have come a long way. We know we can be fighting for the top every weekend. Devon (Kershaw) was second a couple of years ago, and now I’m third. We take a lot of satisfaction showing that we can be consistent.”
Harvey started the pursuit with a 26 second lead on the field based on time over the first two races this weekend – a fourth place finish in the sprint, and his third victory of the season in Saturday’s skiathlon. The top-two athletes on the planet, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Russia’s Alexander Legkov, worked together to hunt down the 25-year-old Harvey for a second straight battle to the wire.
While Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., outduelled Sundby one day ago, it was the world’s number one finishing on top Sunday with a time of 34 minutes, 48.1 seconds (34:48.1). Harvey clocked-in at 34:53.0 for the silver medal, while Legkov won bronze for the second straight day with a time of 34:59.1. Legkov also secured second in the overall standings.
“I started at my own pace, but didn’t want to go into the red zone. I knew the guys were coming, and they came back to me at the six-kilometre mark. Then it became tactical,” said Harvey.
Sundby tried to push the pace with two kilometres left. Harvey and Legkov responded before the Russian tried to attack on his own. Harvey and Sundby counter-jabbed and then dropped the Olympic champion from the 50-kilometre race in Sochi.
“Those are two of the best in the world and are both Olympic medallists,” said Harvey. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I also knew I needed to beat one of them to get into that top-three. Once Legkov couldn’t respond, I knew I just had to stay on my skis. I had great shape and the skis were really good!”
Harvey’s teammate and friend, Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., saved two of his best races of the season. The 31-year-old had solid back-to-back 12th-place finishes. Kershaw stopped the clock at 37:34.1.
Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., rounded out the trio of Canadian men in 23rd place at 40:05.9.
Harvey began his run at the podium this year by winning one gold, one silver and a bronze medal at the Tour de Ski over the holiday season. He added his third career victory at a World Cup sprint race in Poland one month out from the 2014 Games. After a disappointing outing in Sochi, Harvey rediscovered his magic this weekend capturing his fifth World Cup title on Saturday. His silver medal today brings his career podium total to 13 in addition to winning two World Championship medals.
“This has been the best season of my life by far,” added Harvey. “Obviously we didn’t deliver at the Olympics the way we wanted to which was the goal, but to be top-three in the overall, and be consistent each week. I take a lot of satisfaction in that.”
Kershaw’s also grabbed a podium finish of his own this year. The three-time Olympian’s silver medal at the opening stage of Tour de Ski formed a one-two Canadian finish with Harvey.
Andrea Dupont, of Timmins, Ont., was the lone Canadian woman in the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit race. Dupont placed 42nd at 28:38.4.
The Norwegian women swept the podium. Therese Johaug locked up the Overall World Cup title with a victory on Sunday in Falun. Johaug posted a time of 24:25.5. Marit Bjoergen was second at 25:54.7, while Heidi Weng skied to the bronze medal at 26:17.9.
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Complete Results: www.fis-ski.com/cross-country
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 34:48.1; 2. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., CAN, 34:53.0; 3. Alexader Legkov, RUS, 34:59.1; 4. Daniel Richardsson, SWE, 35:59.0; 5. Maxim Vylegzhanin, RUS, 35:56.6.
Other Canadian Results:
12. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 37:34.1; 23. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 40:05.9
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Therese Johaug, NOR, 24:25.5; 2. Marit Bjoergen, NOR, 25:54.7; 3. Heidi Weng, NOR, 26:17.9; 4. Kerttu Niskanen, FIN, 26:18.4; 5. Charlotte Kalla, SWE, 26:41.8
42. Andrea Dupont, Timmins, Ont., 28:38.4.