QUEBEC CITY—Alex Harvey came up a hair short in his quest for a second-straight podium after a hard-fought battle on the Plains of Abraham Saturday, finishing fourth in the men’s 15-kilometre mass start classic-ski race.
Wearing the number one bib after winning the first race of the three-day mini-tour yesterday to end the World Cup season, the 28-year-old Harvey skied comfortably at the front of the lead pack, but was on the outside looking in of a sprint finish, missing the podium by four-tenths of a second at 35:24.9.
“Anytime you have the number one bib is something special, and to do that at home was a really cool feeling. There were crashes and broken poles everywhere so the safest place to be was at the front today,” said Harvey. “Anytime I’m in the top-10, I’m really satisfied. It was just a great day all-around and I’m really happy.”
Harvey, of Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., put on another show for the thousands of Nordic ski fans lining the rolling terrain of the famous Quebec City battlefield where he was in seventh spot for the first half of the middle distance race.
“The crowd was bigger than yesterday. It was great to have the people cheering my name – for the full 3.75 kilometre loop they were roaring my name the whole time. It was really helpful and a lot of fun,” added Harvey.
With the lead pack thinning from 30 to 22 athletes for the final five kilometres of the race, Harvey positioned himself into second place for final lap around Quebec City’s most recognized landmarks, and a charge for his seventh podium this year.
Fighting at the front with three Norwegians and a Russian skier, Harvey responded to an attack on the pack as the world’s best faced a steep climb back onto the Plains for the final one-kilometre, which turned into an all-out sprint.
Harvey made the turn around the final corner down the finishing stretch in fourth place where he double-poled relentlessly, but came up a boot-length short of a spot on the podium.
“I was well positioned, but you can’t win every day,” said Harvey.
The Norwegians grabbed the top-two spots on the podium. Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo topped his teammate Niklas Dyrhaug for the gold medal. Klaebo clocked a time of 35:23.7. Dyrhaug finished .5 seconds back at 35:24.2. Russia’s Alexander Bessmertnykh edged out Harvey for the bronze medal with a time of 35:24.5.
Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was the only other Canadian in the 75-man field to crack the top-30. The three-time Olympian skied to a 28th place finish with a time of 36:32.1.
“What a great place to race. The venue is fantastic here. It is a great sprint course and skating course. It is pretty tight for classic with lots of corners, but cross-country skiing you have to do everything,” said Kershaw. “To use the terrain they have here and bring the skiing to the people, I tip my hat to them. They did a great job and it is a great event.”
Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., had a solid outing placing 32nd at 36:41.4.
Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, was the top Canadian in the women’s 10-kilometre classic-ski race. The 2014 Olympian skied to a time of 26:15.3 for 37th spot.
Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Heidi Weng put on a clinic, finishing one-two in the women’s race. Bjoergen won the gold with a time of 24:23.6, while Weng locked up the silver medal at 24:24.2. Finland’s Krista Parmakoski clocked-in at 24:26.5 for third place.
The World Cup Finals wrap up Sunday in Quebec City with the 15- and 30-kilometre pursuit events. Harvey will start the men’s pursuit race in third spot behind the leaders based on the results of the first two days.
“It is going to be a real manhunt tomorrow so I’ll be hunting all day,” added Harvey. “I think I’ll be about 22 seconds behind so it is still possible. We’ll see who wakes up the best tomorrow. I have raced a lot here as a kid both skiing and running. I know this course well.”
Top-5 Men and Top-30 Canadian Results:
- Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, NOR, 35:23.7; 2. Niklas Dyrhaug, NOR, 35:24.2; 3. Alexander Bessmertnykh, RUS, 35:24.5; 4. Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., CAN, 35:24.9; 5. Sjur Roethe, NOR, 35:25.4.
Canadian Top-35 Results:
- Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 36:32.1; 32. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 36:41.4
Top-5 Women Results:
- Marit Bjoergen, NOR, 24:23.6; 2. Heidi Weng, NOR, 24:24.2; 3. Krista Parmakoski, FIN, 24:26.5; 4. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, NOR, 24:31.4; 5. Nicole Fessel, GER, 24:42.2
Top Canadian Result:
- Emily Nishikawa, Whitehorse, 26:15.3.