While many of the top North American skiers were wrapping up a hard week of racing at the SuperTour Finals in Sun Valley, and others had already hung up the racing boards for the season, World Champion Alex Harvey (CAN) chose a path somewhere in between.
The 22-year-old Canadian star returned to Europe one last time, not to contest one of the big Scandinavian season finales, but to take part in something a little lighter, though no less challenging in its own way.
Harvey toed the starting line in one of the annual Red Bull Nordix events – this one in Davos, Switzerland – along with fellow World Cup stars Dario Cologna (SUI), Marcus Hellner (SWE), Alexander Legkov (RUS) and retired Olympic sprint champion Tor Arne Hetland (NOR), among others.
Harvey placed 18th in the 65 skier field. Estonian Peeter Kummel bested Swiss skiers Philip Furrer and Christoph Eigenmann in the final, after Dusan Kozisek (CZE) blew a sure victory when he face planeted the landing of a final spread eagle on the jump just before the line.
The Red Bull Nordix series is true cross-country ski cross. The course is a mix of high speed banked corners, jumps of up to 20 meters, and for the Nordic purist, a steep climb, sure to keep the racers off of heavier gear.
In classic Red Bull fashion, the atmosphere is one big party, and athletes, while going for it, are clearly in Davos to have fun.
The event is run in similar fashion to a normal sprint race, with skiers completing a qualification round to select for the heats, only in this race, 64 advanced to heats of four.
With just 65 men starting Johan Franssen (SWE) had the ignominious honor of being the only participant not to make the heats.
Harvey placed third in his second heat – the 1/8th final? – ending his day, and giving him 18th overall, one place behind Martin Koukal (CZE) and just ahead of Legkov. Hellner placed last in his first heat and finished 49th. He did best World Champion bronze medalist Ilia Chernousov who was 52nd.
In the final, Kozisec, the 28-year old sprint specialist who stood on the WOrld CUp podium once this year, charged to a clear lead on the climb midway through the race, but with showmanship the theme of the day, he was unwilling to merely cruise across the line, going for big air, and one last trick on the final jump – a botched landing had him sliding on his face toward the finish as Kummel and the two Swiss came whizzing by. Kozisec slid to a stop just meters from the finish.
World Cup Overall Champion Cologna placed second in the B-Final to take 6th, while Hetland was just behind in 7th.
“Phenomenal!” Cologna told Red Bull after the race. “It was the first time for me at the start and I’m thrilled.”
The women’s event was not as well attended. Just 15 skiers started, eleven of whom represented the host nation.
Laurien van der Graff led a Swiss sweep of the podium, besting Selina Gasparin and Silvana Bucher.
Men’s Final Results (PDF)
Women’s Final Results (PDF)
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.