—Harvey wins 16th career World Cup medal, first ever before Christmas break—
KUUSAMO, Fin.—Alex Harvey was clear on his goal this year: to win the Overall World Cup title. The two-time Olympian served notice he means business by winning the silver medal in the second World Cup race of the season on Saturday in Kuusamo, Finland.
The 27 year old demonstrated he is in a different league this year after clocking a second-place time of 21 minutes 16.7 seconds in the 10-kilometre skate-ski race, which marks the second of three stages at the World Cup mini-tour in Finland.
“It feels great. This is my first World Cup podium before Christmas so it is a big step for me,” said Harvey. “Kuusamo has been a hard place for me to race with the steep uphills and now it is better for me in skate-skiing thanks to the surgery.”
Forced to fight through a compressed artery that restricted blood flow in both of his legs – a medical condition common in cyclists after years of the same training movement – Harvey’s potential was limited in the past while skate-skiing up steep climbs.
“Today is a good sign of my recovery following that surgery,” said Harvey. “It is nice to see the surgery paid off. My target this year is to win the Overall title. I didn’t necessarily believe that I could do that in the past, but I do believe I have a shot at that title this year. I didn’t have a good result yesterday but I new my fitness was good and I was confident heading into today.”
It was the 16th World Cup medal of a stellar career for the Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que. product – 10th on the World Cup along with six Tour de Ski podiums – to go along with his four World Championship medals.
Joining Harvey on the podium was Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby who set the golden pace at 21:05.5. Switzerland’s Dario Cologna was third at 21:17.1.
With Sundby carrying a 25 second lead on Harvey, who will start sixth based on time behind the leader after the opening two days, on Sunday for the 15-kilometre pursuit race, the Canadian will be in the mix with many of the biggest names in the sport hunting down the overall title of the Ruka triple.
“It is going to be a big fight,” added Harvey. “We will have to see how we wake up in the morning. We have all had two days of racing. I’ll ski as hard as I cantomorrow and hopefully get off to a good race.”
It was also a solid outing for Harvey’s World Cup comrade, Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont. A stronger classic-ski racer, the three-time Olympian was strong all day while placing 24th at 21:50.2.
Other Canadian men’s results included: Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., in 52nd (22:36.2); Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., in 57th (22:40.0); Michael Somppi, of Thunder Bay, Ont., placing 93rd (23:42.6); and sprinters Len Valjas, Toronto, in 95th (23:45.2) and Jesse Cockney, Canmore, Alta., finishing 101st (24:31.7).
Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, was the lone Canadian in the women’s five-kilometre skate-ski race, and finished 63d at 16:16.0.
The Norwegians swept the women’s podium. Therese Johaug was first with a time of 14:27.3. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg skied to the silver step on the podium at 14:27.7, while Heidi Weng completed the sweep after stopping the clock at 14:32.2.
The mini-tour wraps up in Finland on Sunday with the 10- and 15-kilometre pursuit races.
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 21:05.5; 2. Alex Harvey, of Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., CAN, 21:16.7; 3. Dario Cologna, SUI, 21:17.7; 4. Anders Gloeersen, NOR, 21:19.4; 5. Martin Johansson, SWE, 21:20.1
24. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 21:50.2; 52. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 22:36.2; 57. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 22:40.0; 93. Michael Somppi, Thunder Bay, Ont., 23:42.6; 95. Len Valjas, Toronto, 23:45.2; 101. Jesse Cockney, Canmore, Alta., 24:31.7
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Therese Johaug, NOR, 14:27.3; 2. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR, 14:27.7; 3. Heidi Weng, NOR, 14:32.2; 4. Ida Ingemarsdotter, SWE, 14:33.0; 5. Stina Nilsson, SWE, 14:38.5
63. Emily Nishikawa, Whitehorse, CAN, 16:16.0