Rising star Alex Harvey and Cross-Country Canada are working to resolve the differences that could keep the 20-year-old Harvey off the Canadian World Cup Team for the summer.
There have been a number of conflicting reports regarding the situation. The initial story was that Harvey would be relegated to the Development Team because he would not move to Canmore from his home in Eastern Canada. Tom Holland, Director of High Performance at Cross-Country Canada clarified that Harvey is not required to move to Canmore, though it appears that this was an exception made for Harvey, and not standard practice.
The current disagreement stems from attendance at World Cup training camps. Normally CCC requires World Cup athletes to be present at all camps. Missing two camps results in relegation to the development team. Harvey, with personal coach Louis Bouchard, already has plans to miss a high altitude camp in Mammoth, CA in September. Harvey has made arrangements to go to Austria to ski on the Dachstein glacier at that time.
Earlier in the week Holland told press that “Alex has a choice. We have a World Cup team we operate. We’re a very diverse country. We respect the culture he comes from. We certainly cut him some slack last year coming into senior. We also tried to take away the requirement to move to Canmore for him. But to operate a team, the requirement here is to come to the training camps.”
The Harvey camp responded with strong words. Alex’s illustrious father, Pierre Harvey, a former summer and winter Olympian, told CKAC radio “I find it frustrating that we have to fight … he’s the strongest prospect in the country and here we are involved in this ridiculousness. These are not professionals.”
Added Bouchard, “We’re happy to go out west, we want to go out west, we just don’t want to spend our lives there.” He went on to tell Canadian TV that the training plan that vaulted Harvey to international prominence shuold not be tinkered with. Bouchard also seemed to indicate that the issue stemmed in part from Francophone/Anglophone issues. “We have five Anglophone athletes from Western Canada who train here, but I always tell them they shouldn’t spend too much time here, away from home, from their network. I would expect the same treatment for Francophones that we extend to Anglophones here,” he said, adding “believe me, this is not a fight we want to be involved in.”
The downgrade to the Development Team could cost Harvey as much as $15,000, though reports on this number have varied. Harvey would be added back to the World CUp Team later in the fall, and this issue will not effect his particpation in the World Cup or the Olympics.
Tempers have calmed over the last few days, and Holland told FasterSkier that Harvey has not officially declined his nomination to the World Cup Team and that both sides are working to settle the differences. A media teleconference will be held today to announce a joint training strategy, indicating that efforts at reconciliation were successful.
Harvey catapulted into the international spotlight, finishing the World Cup season with a string of excellent performances, including a third place in the 50km classic in trondheim. Harvey also paried with teammate George Grey to finish third in the Team Sprint at the pre-Olymnpic world Cup in Whistler.
Sources: Cross-Country Canada, CTV.com, The Toronto Star