Alex Harvey turned heads at the 2011 edition of the Tour de Ski, capping off four top-10 finishes with 10th place overall. But the 22-year-old Canadian insists that the best is still to come, later this season.
“I feel really good, but I don’t feel like I’m peaked,” he said, in an interview on his way home from the Tour. “The plan was never to be in the best shape here.”
Harvey’s strong results in the eight-stage race came in tandem with his teammate, Devon Kershaw, who collected four podiums en route to seventh in the overall.
Both departed Europe early last week, with Harvey traveling back to his home in Quebec.
Leaving Val di Fiemme after the conclusion of his second Tour—and after bettering his previous overall finish by 12 places—Harvey said that he never expected that his efforts would result in a top-10. But even better than the result was the fact that his body withstood all the punishment.
“Obviously, I’m tired now, but last year, after the last stage, I was dead. I was super-pale,” he said. “Now, I am tired, but I am not dead.”
Still, though, the Tour took its toll, like it did from all the other athletes who completed it. Upon arriving home, Harvey said, he would take a few days of barely any training—“everyone has to rest from this,” he said.
After recovering from all the racing, and some time with friends and family, Harvey will return to Europe on the 23rd. For the next few weeks afterwards, he’ll be based out of Livigno, Italy, preparing for the 2011 World Ski Championships in Oslo, which begin in late February.
In Italy, Harvey will conduct a yo-yo altitude camp, training big hours while he moves back and forth between high and low elevations—the same approach that the Canadians have used for the last few major championships, he said.
Along with teammate Len Valjas, and perhaps one other Canadian, Harvey will live at 2,300 meters in Livigno, and train at roughly 1,800.
“Altitude works well for me,” he said.
During his preparations for Oslo, Harvey will also make a quick trip to Otepaa, Estonia, to compete in a single event at the U-23 World Championships: the 30 k pursuit, on January 31.
The pursuit format is a good one for Harvey—he took the bronze medal in the 20 k version at the 2007 World Junior Championships—and he said that the trip also coincides with a planned trip to sea level, as part of his yo-yo camp. Given Harvey’s recent results, he’ll be the hands-down favorite to win, especially with rising Russian star Petr Sedov sidelined with heart problems.
After returning to Livigno, Harvey’s stay there wraps up in mid-February, when he travels to Norway to compete in the World Cups in Drammen on the 19th and 20th. Many athletes are using those races as a tune-up for Oslo, since they’re being held in a suburb of the city just a week before the championships start.
Harvey’s peaking plan for Oslo, he said, is essentially identical to the program he executed heading into last year’s Olympic Games, where he posted his best results of the season. Given that, he maintained that there should be room for his fitness to improve from its already-impressive level at the Tour.
“I think there’s still a bit more to come from me,” he said. “World Championships is still the main goal….I think Oslo will be better than this.”
Topher Sabot contributed reporting.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.