—Canadians solid on Sunday, Kershaw climbs up standings with 17th fastest time—
KUUSAMO, Fin.—Alex Harvey completed the most successful opening weekend of his World Cup career by finishing seventh overall in the World Cup mini-tour in Kuusamo, Finland on Sunday.
Looking to build off a silver-medal finish on Saturday, the 27-year-old Harvey clocked the 12th-fastest time of the day on the 15-kilometre classic-ski pursuit course to finish seventh overall on the three-day mini-tour with a time of 38:05.5.
“It was a tough race for sure. I felt really good, in fact I think it was the best day I had physically, but it was really tricky waxing conditions,” said Harvey.
Starting time behind the leaders based on the results of the opening two races, the Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que. resident worked the front of the chase pack with Dario Cologna as leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby took off the front and left the world chasing for the final two spots on the podium.
With fresh, wet snow evolving on top of an icy track, Harvey was in the mix until the final two laps around the six-loop race.
“Our skis really weren’t that bad. The speeds were average, but the difference was the Norwegians and Italians had the best skis. I was right there until the final kilometre but I think as the track started <deteriorating> I lost the group on the last downhill,” said Harvey.
“I am super satisfied with the weekend. Seventh is my best final ranking in Kuusamo. I just felt I had something more in me today than seventh.”
The Norwegians swept the men’s podium again on Sunday. Martin Johnsrud Sundby skied away with the title, clocking a winning time of 37:10.0. Petter Northug fought his way to the silver medal at 37:54.7, while Finn Haagen Krogh locked up the bronze with a time of 37:56.5.
It was a solid opening weekend for three-time Olympian, Devon Kershaw. The Sudbury, Ont. resident climbed six spots in the standings after clocking the 17th fastest time of the day to finish 23rd overall at 38:55.5.
“This is usually the hardest race we do all year. People are just going bananas from the gun,” said Kershaw. “You have to warm up well, ski well technically, go with the pace and hope for the best.”
The rest of the Canadians also improved on their overall rank with a solid day. Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., placed 50th at 41:27.2; Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., clocked-in at 41:48.9 for 55th spot; while Michael Somppi, of Thunder Bay, Ont., finished 81st (44:18.0).
Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, placed 60th in the women’s 10-kilometre pursuit.
Therese Johaug held her first overall position with a time of 27:22.3. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson was second at 27:44.9, while Norway���s Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg skied to the bronze medal with a time of 27:54.7
The World Cup now travels to Lillehammer, Norway.
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 37:10.0; 2. Petter Northug, NOR, 37:54.7; 3. Finn Haagen Krogh, NOR, 37:56.5; 4. Francesco De Fabiani, ITA, 37:56.5; 5. Niklas Dyrhaug, NOR, 37:58.5
7. Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., 38:05.5; 23. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 38:58.5; 50. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 41:27.2; 55. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 41:48.9; 81. Michael Somppi, Thunder Bay, Ont., 44:18.0
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Therese Johaug, NOR, 27:22.3; 2. Stina Nilsson, SWE, 27:44.9; 3. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR, 27:54.7; 4. Ida Ingemarsdotter, SWE, 28:04.8; 5. Kerttu Niskanen, FIN, 28:19.3
60. Emily Nishikawa, Whitehorse, CAN, 32:34.1