FIS Cross-Country World Cup Finals (Quebec City): 10/15 k freestyle pursuits
Even after Sunday’s 15-kilometer freestyle pursuit, Alex Harvey had a busy day ahead of him with three different podiums to stand on: one for placing second on the day, another for placing second in the Distance World Cup, and yet one more for finishing the season in third in the Overall World Cup.
It was a suitable ending for Harvey’s storybook three-day venture in Quebec City, after he won Friday’s skate sprint and placed fourth in Saturday’s 15 k classic mass start.
Starting third the pursuit third, 23 seconds behind Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo in first and 1 second behind another Norwegian Niklas Dyrhaug in second, Harvey set a blistering pace from the gun and caught Dyrhaug around 5 k in.
From there, the three jockeyed for the ideal position and ultimately, the win with over the next 10 k. The chase pack was closing on them slightly, but not enough to be a threat. A loose dog on course at the end of their third lap caused a little alarm as it ran alongside the three leaders, but didn’t affect any of the racers to be a problem.
On the fourth and final lap, just before one of the last long descents into and out of the stadium, all three nearly came to a stop — none of them eager to lead, fearing their attack out of the ensuing draft.
Klæbo finally decided to go first, and he put in a sprint in an attempt to catch the others off guard. The three remained together all the way to the finish, lining up side by side as they squared off for the final 100-meter showdown. In a photo finish for first, Klæbo took it by less than a one-hundredth of a second over Harvey in 32:44.5 minutes, and Dyrhaug settled for third, one-tenth of a second back.
The third Norwegian in the top four, Sindre Bjørnestad Skar outlasted the six-man chase pack that followed the top three across the line. Skar finished fourth, 26.1 seconds out of first, just 0.4 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Dario Cologna in fifth. Also in that group, Sweden’s Marcus Hellner posted the fastest time of the day (31:55.5) to finish sixth overall (+26.8) Norway’s Sjur Røthe followed in seventh (+27.2), Russia’s Andrey Larkov placed eighth (+27.6), and Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave ninth (+30.6).
For time of day, American Erik Bjornsen broke through in 11th for his best World Cup result. He placed 25th overall (+2:19.1), just ahead of Canada’s Devon Kershaw in 26th (+2:21.4). Kershaw was 19th for time of day.
Four Americans landed in the points (top 30) for time of day, with Paddy Caldwell in 25th, David Norris 27th, and Scott Patterson 30th.
Overall in the pursuit, Patterson finished 41st (+3:45.6), Norris 43rd (+4:15.9) and Caldwell 46th (+4:25.6).
Also for the U.S., Andy Newell placed 44th, Simi Hamilton 45th, Noah Hoffman 52nd, Jack Hegman 57th, Brian Gregg 58th, and Cole Morgan 65th.
Among the Canadians, Graeme Killick finished 42nd, Knute Johnsgaard 53rd, Len Valjas 54th, Evan Palmer-Charrette 60th, Bob Thompson 61st, Brian McKeever 62nd, Joey Foster 64th, Andy Shields 66th, Russell Kennedy 67th, Jess Cockney 68th, Gareth Williams 71st, Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier 72nd, and Julian Locke 73rd.
In the women’s 10 k freestyle pursuit earlier in the day, Marit Bjørgen caught her Norwegian teammate Heidi Weng almost immediately after starting 1 second back in second, and the two skied together well ahead of anyone else for the rest of their three-lap race.
After leading for most of it, Bjørgen ultimately took the win, entering the finishing stretch slightly ahead of Weng and holding her off by 1.2 seconds across the line with a time of 22:36.1. For Bjørgen, it was her second win in two days, after winning Saturday’s 10 k classic mass start, and she ended her first full season back since having a child ranked second in the Distance World Cup. Weng won both the Distance and Overall World Cup titles.
Bjørgen also won for the time of day (22:35.1). Weng’s time ranked second and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson was third for both time of day and overall after moving up from seventh and outlasting the chase pack.
Nilsson finished exactly a minute after Bjørgen and 1.9 seconds ahead of her Swedish teammate Ida Ingemarsdotter in fourth (+1:01.9). Finland’s Krista Parmakoski finished fifth (+1:05.6) and ended the season second in the Overall World Cup and third in the Distance World Cup.
Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg started third but ended the day in sixth (+1:19.8) after skiing alone for a good portion of it, well behind Bjørgen and Weng and just ahead of the hungry chase pack. Østberg finished her season in third in the Overall World Cup.
Sadie Bjornsen led the U.S. women with the fifth-fastest time of day in 10th overall (+1:27.2). Jessie Diggins moved up from 20th to place 16th (+2:14.8) with the 14th fastest time of day. Diggins ended up sixth in the Overall World Cup and seventh in the Distance World Cup.
Emily Nishikawa was the top Canadian woman in the pursuit in 38th (+4:52.7) and Cendrine Browne followed in 40th (+4:54.7).
For the U.S., Sophie Caldwell placed 36th (+4:26.1), Rosie Brennan 42nd, Caitlin Patterson 43rd, Chelsea Holmes 45th, Julia Kern 46th, Kaitlynn Miller 52nd, Liz Guiney 53rd, Becca Rorabaugh 54th, Erika Flowers 56th, and Jennie Bender 60th.
Also for Canada, Dahria Beatty finished 50th, Annika Richardson 55th, Frederique Vezina 57th, Katherine Stewart-Jones 58th, Andrea Dupont 59th, Annika Hicks 62nd, Sophie Carrier-Laforte 63rd, Sadie White 64th, Lisle Compton 65th, Katherine Weaver 66th, Laura Leclair 67th, and Mia Serratore 68th.