FasterSkier sat down with Alex Harvey on Monday to talk about the two medals he’s racked up in his two races so far at 2015 World Championships, and what they mean to him and for Canadian cross-country skiing.
In a busy day outside of Minsk, Belarus, Sean Doherty finished 11th for the U.S. in the junior men’s pursuit, followed by Canada’s Aidan Millar in 14th; Millar’s teammate Pearce Hanna placed 13th in the youth men’s race. We caught up with nine different North American competitors, plus have a gallery of photos by Jake Ellingson and Jane Robertson to share.
Longtime friends and teammates Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Maiken Caspersen Falla, of Norway, were out for some redemption after their fourth-place finish in the 2013 World Championships team sprint, and they got it with a sizeable win over Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter and Stina Nilsson, while Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk and Sylwia Jaśkowiec were thrilled with bronze.
The 2015 American Birkebeiner 51 k freestyle marathon on Saturday offered no shortage of excitement, as Italy’s Segio Bonaldi outsprinted three French skiers to win his second Birkie by half a second. American Holly Brooks used a hard push in the final kilometers to collect her second Birkie title as well.
Alex Harvey approached Saturday’s 30 k skiathlon with a winning mindset and came out with bronze, his second medal in as many races so far at 2015 World Championships. “A medal today is as good as gold,” Canadian National Team Coach Justin Wadsworth says, “We couldn’t want anything more.” Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin outlasted Switzerland’s Dario Cologna for his first world title.
When Norwegian Therese Johaug threw down the hammer on Mördarbacken, a.k.a. “murder-hill”, in the last lap of the women’s 15 k skiathlon there was no hope for the rest of the competition. Using the hill to her advantage, Johaug skied to a World Championships gold ahead of teammate Astrid Jacobsen and Charlotte Kalla of Sweden.
Erik Bjornsen of the U.S. Ski Team and Alaska Pacific University notched his best-distance result of the season on Saturday in his first race of 2015 World Championships. He led the U.S. men in 28th in the skiathlon, while Noah Hoffman placed 44th, Kris Freeman was 48th and Matt Gelso finished 54th.
Conway, New Hampshire, might not be surprised that yet again, Sean Doherty is bringing home a medal in his luggage from a major international competition. But after two years of winning at the youth level, making the podium as a junior is still a big accomplishment. Doherty starts Sunday’s pursuit ten seconds out of first place.
Stepping up from youth to junior racing is supposed to be hard – but in doing so, Canmore’s Aidan Millar turned in his best result ever in international championship racing. “I’m finding it hard to believe that I was actually able to get that result,” he wrote of finishing 8th in the 10 k sprint in Belarus.
Rydzek Realizes Every Child’s Dream as Nordic Combined World Champ; Taylor Fletcher Leads U.S. in 19th
In the first nordic-combined competition of World Championships, Germany’s Johannes Rydzek had some of the best timing all day, attacking late to drop his lone rival before the finish: Italy’s Alessandro Pittin. The U.S. saw top-20 jumps from Billy Demong and Ben Berend, and Taylor Fletcher skied up from 25th to 19th.
When Chloe Levins arrived in Belarus, she had been sick and missed a training block. She wasn’t thrilled with her first race, but by the time round two rolled around she was ready: Levins cleaned all ten targets to place 18th. Pearce Hanna led the Canadian team by finishing 34th in the men’s 7.5 k sprint.
Out of six U.S. Ski Team members who advanced to the heats in Thursday’s World Championships classic sprint, Sophie Caldwell and Simi Hamilton went the farthest, making it to the semifinals before finishing 10th and 12th, respectively. Andy Newell placed 17th and rookie Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess led his quarterfinal at one point before ending up 30th overall. Sadie Bjornsen was 19th and Ida Sargent placed 29th.