MONT SAINTE-ANNE, Québec — While Alex Harvey was the man of the day at Canadian Ski Nationals on Tuesday, Devon Kershaw, Lenny Valjas and the remaining World Cup crew (including Chandra Crawford, Dasha Gaiazova, Alysson Marshall and Kevin Sandau) also met a strong welcome after flying into Québec late Monday night and racing the next day.
Cross-country ski fans, friends, family and media outlets came out to Mont Sainte-Anne to catch a glimpse of the nation’s top skiers in their flashy red suits. Several competitive skiers showed up as well for a shot at contending with some of the world’s best.
Some quotes from the 15 k:
Marc-André Bédard (Canadian Biathlon Team/Québec), 4th
The first thing I did was ask Alex if he was coming to nationals. He was like, ‘Of course I’m coming.’ I was like, ‘OK, I need to go just to see how I do against them.’ That was fun. I’ve been friends with him since I was a kid when we were in Mont Sainte-Anne together.
There’s lots of biathletes who make podiums on lots of World Cups … so we know that the top biathletes are pretty much the same as the top cross-country skiers. I’m not a top biathlete; I’m just hoping to do good and those guys [Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, etc.] are the best skiers so it’s really cool to be not so far behind them.
I wish I could do more cross-country, but it’s rare that the opportunity comes, especially with the strong guys.
[Note: Bédard said he last competed at Canadian cross-country nationals in 2007.]
David Greer (Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre), 5th
Alex was really moving today. He started 45 seconds behind me and caught me at about 2 k. I tried to stay with him for about 10 seconds and decided I’m probably better off just racing my own race. That wasn’t very encouraging, but later in the race I felt better and better and then got encouraging splits.
End of the season, a lot of people are fried and not super pumped about the racing, but it was definitely super fun having those guys here because we don’t get to race with them very often. You see them racing World Cups all year so it’s the one chance we have to measure ourselves against them. I was definitely looking forward to it.
Brent McMurtry (Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre/Senior Development Team), 6th
I was getting splits off of Devon and Ivan [Babikov] I was third. Devon caught me for 30 seconds after two-and-a-half kilometers or something, but I was not going the same speed as him. It was good motivation because once he caught me and went by, I was able to keep him in sight for the next two laps so I sort of knew I was at least a little bit competitive.
Devon was second in the World Cup, Alex last weekends had two podiums. You know that when you’re two minutes back, it’s two minutes off the best in the world. It’s not where I want to be and not where I think I can be, but at the same time, it’s not so bad.
I’m staying at Alex’s house; they’re good friends of mine. It was funny sitting around at breakfast [Tuesday] morning with Devon and Alex. Their season is done and talking about things other than skiing and just life. It’s nice to have them around.
Erik Carleton (Rocky Mountain Racers/National Para-Nordic Team), 8th
It’s my only chance to race against our World Cup team. … I knew it would be, for sure, at a different level. When Alex passed me [about halfway through], I just saw the pace he was going. I stayed with him a bit, then the last lap was pretty tough after that. … You can just see he’s really efficient and he keeps pulling away. He was gone on the last lap.
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.