JuniorsRacingHarvey Leads Canada to Record Day at U23 Championships

FasterSkier FasterSkierFebruary 1, 2009

Praz de Lys Sommand, Fra.—Canada’s Alex Harvey completed a stellar month by finishing fourth in a men’s 30-kilometre pursuit cross-country skiing race at the Under-23 World Championships in Praz de Lys Sommand, France on Saturday.

Reminiscent of his glorious day just two weeks ago where he captured a bronze medal at the World Cup in Whistler, B.C. with teammate, George Grey, Harvey blasted down the finishing stretch past a Russian skier while staring down his second international medal in January which sat at the finish line. But with five metres to go in the race, he lost his balance, costing him another trip to the podium. Harvey finished with a time of one hour 26 minutes 59.3 seconds.

“It was a day of mixed emotions. I was right there but I nearly tripped and that cost me a medal,” said Harvey, who hails from St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. “It was such a tight race today and I have to be happy because it was a really good race.”

Harvey and his teammates made history for Canada on Saturday, marking the first time four Canadian men have all placed in the top-15 in an international race at any level. Frederic Touchette, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., added to his sixth-place finish on Thursday with a ninth place result today (1:28:23.1), while Calgary’s Brent McMurtry was 10th (1:28:24.9), and Toronto’s Len Valjas was 13th (1:38:54.0).

Sergey Cherepanov, of Kazakhstan, won the gold in the men’s race with a time of 1:26:50.2, edging Alexander Bessmertnykh (RUS) by half a second. Bessmertnykh won the bronze in Thursday’s 15km freestyle.

With Harvey and the budding stars of the sport in the mix, the talent pool of Canada’s men’s team is growing deeper with nearly half a dozen athletes now ready to contend for the international podium.

“Our top guys in Canada are getting so strong, and we’ve had four men on the World Cup podium this year which is pretty remarkable,” said Harvey. “To have the young guys pushing the older guys it is keeping them really fast. Everyone is pushing everyone and that is really good for our program.”

Harvey is following a track record of success in his family as well. The son of four-time World Cup cross-country skiing medallist Pierre Harvey, Alex joined the World Cup team this year after winning three World Junior Championship medals. His fourth-place finish in France adds to a growing list of impressive results for the emerging star on Canada’s Cross-Country Ski Team. In addition to winning his first-ever World Cup medal earlier this month, he posted a 12th-place finish in a World Cup pursuit race days earlier.

“It has been a pretty incredible month for me and I never would have expected to get on the podium on a World Cup being only 20 years old,” said Harvey. “But those results in Whistler really motivated me, and I am skiing so much faster than I thought I would be this year back in October.”

The US started three skiers. Tad Elliott led the way in 23rd place, just under four minutes back. Matt Gelso was 26th and Karl Nygren did not finish.

Men’s 30km Pursuit – U23 Championships – Complete Results

Primary Source: Cross-Country Canada

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