OSLO, Nor.—One week removed from being crowned the World Champion in a 50-kilometre mass start skate-ski race, Alex Harvey missed the podium by a blink of an eye in one of the most prestigious distance races of all at the birthplace of the sport in Oslo, Norway.
Harvey, of Saint Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., was in a photo finish for the bronze medal with four athletes after classic-skiing 50 kilometres down Norway’s hallowed Nordic trails that winds it way through forests, up hills and into the City of Oslo. When the dust finally settled at the finish, Harvey was pegged in sixth place, two-tenths of a second off the podium.
The 28-year-old Harvey completed the marathon race in a time of 2:04:15.1 after the sprint finish.
“Being that close to the podium is heart breaking, but none of the guys ahead of me did the sprint this week so I think I got beat by someone who was a little more fresh than me”, said Harvey who was looking to become the first athlete ever to win the 50-kilometre in back-to-back weekends at the World Championships and the Holmenkollen.
“I had a really bad sprint today. The conditions were really warm and wet. I was cramping all over the place so it wasn’t a good finish. But I’m in good shape and have to be happy with the sixth today.”
Alexander Bessmertnykh, of the Czech Republic, edged out Harvey along with Norway’s Sjur Roethe and Niklaus Dyrhaug in a photo finish for the bronze medal with a time of 2:04:14.9.
Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby skied away from the field to clock a winning time of 2:02:59.7. Finland’s Iivo Niskanen skied to the silver medal with a time of 2:03:09.6.
Canada’s Devon Kershaw put in a solid effort, but finished just outside the top-30. Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont, posted a time of 2:11:59.1. Russell Kennedy, of Canmore, Alta., was 47th (2:23:16.0).
Every sport has its shrine. For the world’s best cross-country skiers that is the Holmenkollen.
Recognized as the world’s biggest ski festival, the event sees more than 50,000 people gather annually in the Holmenkollen National Ski Arena or camping out in the surrounding forest days in advance of the most prestigious race on the Nordic calendar that has been running since 1902.
Harvey’s father, Pierre, won the race in 1988 when it was a skate-ski technique.
“It’s so awesome here. There are so many people along the course who are cheering so loud you can’t even hear the coaches giving you the splits. You definitely feed off the adrenaline,” said Harvey, who finished fifth in the 50-kilometre event in Oslo at the 2011 World Championships when he and Kershaw also won gold in the team sprint.
Now ready to head across the pond for the last three races of the season at home in Quebec City, Harvey will switch his focus to chasing a spot on the Overall World Cup podium. With a sprint, 15-kilometre classic and 30-kilometre pursuit race all on the Plains of Abraham in front of him, Harvey is looking to accomplish his goal of finishing in the top-three overall for the second time of his career after having arguably his most consistent season ever.
Currently sitting in third place, Harvey was also third in 2014. Devon Kershaw holds the honour of having the top finish ever by a Canadian male when he was second overall on the World Cup in 2012.
“The main goal is to keep the third place overall standing. There is no question this has been my best season all-around. To be third overall and get that World Championship title there is no question this has been the best year of my career. It would be nice to have three good races, and maybe a podium too,” added Harvey.
The women’s 30-kilometre classic-ski race is set for Sunday at the Holmenkollen.
Top-Five Men’s and Canadian Results:
- Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 2:02:59.7; 2. Iivo Niskanen, FIN, 2:03:09.6; 3. Alexander Bessmertnykh, CZE, 2:04:14.9; 4. Sjur Roeth, NOR, 2:04:14.9; 5. Niklas Dyrhaug, NOR, 2:04:14.9.
- Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., 2:04:15.1; 33. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 2:11:59.1; 47. Russell Kennedy, Canmore, Alta., 2:23:16.0