(ISN) – VAL MUSTAIR, Sui.—Alex Harvey moved into fifth place overall in the seven-race Tour de Ski after a 16th place finish in a skate-sprint race on Tuesday in Val Mustair, Switzerland.
Harvey led three Canadians into the head-to-head heats with the fastest 30 qualifiers. The quest for the podium came to an end for all three athletes in the quarter-final round. Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., placed 22nd, while Toronto’s Len Valjas, who has been battling a cold all week, skied to 28th spot.
“It was good to qualify for the heats, but I wanted a little more,” said Valjas, who has decided to pull out of the remaining four races on the cross-country ski grind through Europe. “I went out really fast today, and just had nothing left up the final hill. I just didn’t have the energy today, but I gave it all I had.”
Harvey, of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., had a solid heat. Starting at the back of the pack of six, Harvey was well positioned before surging into third spot up the hill on the highly-technical and icy course. The 26 year old jumped into second spot on the charge leading into the finishing stretch, but was edged out at the line, finishing third in his heat. The top-two skiers in each heat advance to the next round, along with the next two fastest skiers. Harvey’s day came to end as his finishing time was not within the top two.
Italy’s Federico Pellegrino won the first sprint race on this year’s Tour. Norway’s Petter Northug claimed the silver, while last year’s Tour winner, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, locked up the bronze medal.
Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., was the only other Canadian to compete in Switzerland. The distance specialist did not advance to the heats after qualifying in 73rd spot.
The nine-day trek through Europe for the best all-around cross-country skiers on the planet reaches its midway point on Wednesday with a men’s 10-kilometre classic-ski race in Toblach, Italy. One of the featured events on the Nordic calendar, the Tour de Ski tests some of the most physically and mentally fit athletes in the world boasts seven races at five different venues in three countries to determine the king and queen of cross-country skiing.
No Canadian women are competing in this year’s event.