(ISN) – KUUSAMO, Fin.—Alex Harvey finished as the top Canadian in 14th spot as the nation’s top cross-country skiers kicked off the World Cup season and the long road to Pyeongchang 2018 with a classic sprint race in Kuusamo, Finland on Saturday.
The lone Canadian to earn a spot in the head-to-head heats with the top-30 qualifiers after posting the 17th-fastest time on a mild day in Finland, the 26-year-old of Saint-Ferreol les Neiges, Que. was not able to advance past the opening round after finishing third in his heat.
“Alex showed today he is in great shape, but I think we just need more races at this time,” said Tor Arne Hetland, the new World Cup coach for Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada. “We need to ski a little faster. The other nations were a little better today, but we need to be patient.”
Coming off a career-best year where he finished third on the Overall World Cup standings with eight podium finishes and two victories, the two-time Olympian Harvey did demonstrate patience in the quarter-final round skiing at the back of the group of six. Picking up the pace as the heat went on, Harvey stumbled on the glazed tracks while beginning to make his move climbing a hill. Getting back on his feet, Harvey hammered the pace, but came up short of finishing in the top-two to secure a spot in the semis and was forced to the sidelines.
The Norwegians eventually swept the men’s podium. Eirik Brandsdal finishing on top. Petter Northug skied to the silver medal position on the podium, while Sondre Turvoil Fossli completed the sweep in third place.
No other Canadian men were able to qualify for the round of 30. Toronto’s Len Valjas matched his season-opening performance from one year ago, placing 39th. Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was 57th.
Two-time Olympian, Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., was the lone Canadian to suit up in the women’s classic-ski race. Jones also finished outside the top 30 qualifiers in 48th.
Norway’s Marit Bjoergen sprinted to the gold. Slovenia’s Katja Visnar was second, while Maiken Caspersen Falla, also of Norway, locked up the bronze.
The World Cup continues on Sunday in Kuusamo, Finland with the 10- and 15-kilometre classic-ski races.
CCC 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 60,000 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, Mackenzie Investments and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us at www.cccski.com.
Complete Results: www.fis-ski.com
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Eirik Brandsdal, NOR; 2. Petter Northug, NOR; 3. Sondre Turvoil Fossli, NOR; 4. Finn Haagen Krogh, NOR; 5. Alexey Petukhov, RUS
Other Canadian Results:
14. Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que.; 39. Len Valjas, Toronto; 57. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont.
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Marit Bjoergen, NOR: 2. Katja Visnar, SLO; 3. Maiken Caspersen Falla, NOR; 4. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR; 5. Ida Sargent, USA
48. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont.