Alex Harvey (CAN), back in action after a cramping back caused him to drop out of the 30k last weekend, crashed out of the quarterfinals in Szklarska Poreba, Poland.
Harvey qualified in 20th in the skate sprint, but his day came to an early end when he went down on the tight left turn above the stadium
“I was feeling pretty good in my quarter, the pace felt pretty easy,” Harvey wrote in an email to FasterSkier. “I should have trusted my finishing sprint a bit more but I tried to make a move on the inside on a corner and Bransdal skied on my ski tip and next thing I knew I was on the ground.”
He felt like he went a bit easy in qualifiying, having “quite a bit left in the tank” at the line.
On the relatively gradual course, Harvey said the key was the descent and then the long gradual uphill to the finish.
“I knew the first half of the course would mean nothing in the heats, so the strategy was to save energy there,” Harvey said of his tactics. “Then kind of hope for fast skis in the downhill and make sure you have a lot left for the finish.”
Despite placing just 27th, Harvey is still ranked 10th in the Sprint Cup and seventh in the overall, well within striking distance of the top-5.
Widmer and Valjas Outside Looking In
Phil Widmer, back on the World Cup after success racing Scandinavian Cups, was 35th, .99 seconds out of the heats.
“I felt good in warm up and was fired-up to get a crack at the World Cup,” Widmer told FasterSkier. “I felt like I skied the first half of the course well, but didn’t close it out.”
He said the day “wasn’t ideal” and he regretted opting to race without glasses.
“I chose to race without glasses, as mine had really fogged up in warm-up and that wasn’t smart,” Widmer said. “I got blurry eyed skiing home and with the tough conditions, as in it was really icy and fast, I wasn’t doing myself any favors.”
Widmer is getting just a cup of coffee on the circuit this time around, headed back to Canada to prepare for National Championships at the end of the weekend.
Valjas was also disappointed with his race, especially coming off a 12th in the Moscow skate sprint.
“I was really hoping to improve that position today and get back in the top 10,” Valjas said.
Warming temperatures created glazed and fast snow, conditions that Valjas said he has had trouble with in the past.
“I felt really good today,” he said. “I crossed the finish and still felt really fresh. I must have paced it terribly—with the super fast conditions starting really hard looked like the best strategy in the qualifier.”
The result was all the more frustrating as Valjas felt the gradual terrain on of the Szklarska Poreba course was a good match.
“The course suited me perfectly, it had nice gradual hills,” he said. “It’s too bad I couldn’t make it into the heats.”
Valjas will remain on the World Cup circuit and will race the 15k on Sunday before heading to Italy with the rest of the team for a training camp.
The Canadian women qualified a single skier for the heats. Dasha Gaiazova placed 30th. She was in good position for much of her quarterfinal before fading at the end.
Both Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones missed the heats.
Matt Voisin contributed reporting.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.