—Len Valjas qualifies 45th, Andrea Dupont skis to 52nd in women’s race—
STOCKHOLM, Swe.—Alex Harvey is rounding into top form as the nation readies to host the inaugural Ski Tour Canada in a few weeks time. Harvey skied to a season-best seventh in a World Cup cross-country ski classic-sprint race on Thursday in downtown Stockholm, Sweden.
“It was really important to get this result today. I haven’t had much success in the sprints this year so it was nice to get back in the top-10, especially with the Ski Tour Canada coming up, which has three sprint races,” said Harvey.
Qualifying 20th for the round of 30 in the head-to-head heats, the 27-year-old Harvey advanced to the semifinals after finishing second in his opening heat as the music blared and cowbells rang while the world’s best Nordic skiers mixed it up on the streets of Stockholm for the prestigious Royal Palace sprints.
Harvey got off to a slower start in his semifinal heat. Working at the back of his pack of six, Harvey slowly made ground on the field along the flat straightaway section of the course where he moved into fourth. Trying to make his move on the pack up the final climb to the finish, Harvey jumped into third spot, but missed out on punching his ticket into the final on the tight sprint course.
The top-two athletes in each heat along with the next two fastest times advance.
“It is always really cool anytime you can bring a sporting event to a downtown. The music and energy was really cool,” said Harvey, who now moves to 12th in the overall World Cup standings. “The course was tight, and I had to focus on having good lines in every corner today. Downtown sprints are quite flat, and usually not a lot of terrain so we went with the strategy to use skate skis.
“After skiing the course yesterday, it was faster to double pole and not go with the kick wax. The snow was soft and dirty. It was just way faster on the flats to double pole.”
Russia’s Nikita Kriukov found the fast line all day on his way to being crowned the winner of the 11th edition of the Royal Palace sprint race. Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad and Petter Northug grabbed the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Canada’s Len Valjas also suited up in the men’s race. The Torontonian did not advance to the heats after qualifying 45th.
Andrea Dupont, of Timmins, Ont., was the lone Canadian woman to suit up on Thursday, and qualified 52nd.
Norway skied to the top-two spots of the women’s podium. Maiken Caspersen Falla won the gold, besting her teammate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson thrilled the hometown crowd with a bronze medal.
The World Cup now travels to Falun, Sweden on Saturday with a ladies and men’s 5- and 10-kilometre classic-ski race – one of Harvey’s favourite venues on the circuit.
“I have great memories racing in Falun for sure. I’m excited to go back there and ski on that course where I’ve had some success.”
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Nikita Kriukov, RUS; 2. Ola Vigen Hattestad, NOR; 3. Petter Northug, NOR; 4. Finn Haagen Krogh, NOR; 5. Baptiste Gros, FRA
7. Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que.; 45. Len Valjas, Toronto
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Maiken Caspersen Falla, NOR; 2. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR; 3. Stina Nilsson, SWE; 4. Hanna Falk, SWE; 5. Jennie Oeberg, SWE
52. Andrea Dupont, Timmins, Ont.