Even after earning two medals at the 2015 World Championships, Canada’s Alex Harvey is still OK with a 17th-place finish in Sunday’s 15-kilometer freestyle individual start in Lahti, Finland.
“It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great,” he said in a phone interview.
In 17th, Harvey ended up 35.7 seconds behind Italy’s Francesco de Fabiani, who won in 34:51.2, and 31.1 seconds from a podium spot.
“I thought it would be a tight race and it was a really, really tight race,” he said. “I was never really in it, but never too far out of it, either.”
Harvey placed better in last year’s Lahti 15 k, finishing eighth, but was 55 seconds behind the winner and farther from podium contention than he was on Sunday.
Harvey had a good start – he was 10th at the 6.2 k point and just 9.5 seconds off the pace.
“I opened hard and thought that was the right speed to fight for the top five or top 10, and I just faded a bit near the end, but I didn’t completely blow up and the wheels didn’t completely fall off,” he explained, adding that he slowly lost time and position near the end.
“I was skiing on my own the whole time, so I knew I had to make the work on my own,” he said.
Harvey explained that he took quite a bit of rest in the last week since World Championships and that it typically takes him a while to get back into normal skiing shape.
“My body was kind of asleep this weekend, I think,” he said.
He had hoped for a top five or the podium in Lahti, but knew he would be affected after an exhausting World Championships and subsequent rest.
Meanwhile, Emily Nishikawa of the Canadian Development Team notched a career-best 23rd, 2:01.6 off the pace of Norway’s Marit Bjørgen, who won in 25:27.8. Previously, Nishikawa’s World Cup best was 29th in the 10 k classic in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this season.
“I’m really happy with my race today,” she wrote in an email. “I started faster than I normally do and I think that made a difference in my result.”
However, she explained that she thought she might have started too fast, as she faded in the last two kilometers. At the 8.4 k point, she was in 18th and 1:42.4 minutes behind Bjørgen.
“I was really struggling to keep up my speed,” she wrote.
On the men’s side, Graeme Killick – who was 19th in the 50 k classic at World Championships – finished 41st (+1:36.6), and Ivan Babikov placed 48th (+1:59.8).
Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) teammates and national development team members, Kevin Sandau finished 61st (+3:09.3), while Michael Somppi was one place behind in 62nd (+3:17.4).
The other Canadian women racing included Cendrine Browne, of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre, in 52nd (+4:10.7), Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Rocky Mountain Racers) in 54th (+4:36.0), and Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) in 58th (+5:08.0).
“We had good skis yesterday and today,” Canadian World Cup Coach Tor Arne Hetland told Cross Country Canada, noting the soft snow and warm temperatures. “We saw good racing out of Alex – I expect him to do well in Drammen later this week, and in the 50 k in Oslo. Emily skied very well and came out with a personal best, and Cendrine should be happy with how she has skied the last two races.”
Despite feeling like he is “running on fumes,” Harvey said he was looking forward to the last two World Cup races of the season.
He is hoping for a podium finish on Wednesday at the classic sprint in Drammen, Norway, explained that the sprint in Drammen is always fun and that he has vastly improved his classic sprinting this season.
“I’m still really motivated; I’m hungry to race, but the body needs to be there, so it’s kind of hit and miss for the body by mid-March,” he said. “But I’m motivated so that’s important.”
After the classic sprint in Drammen, the 2014/2015 World Cup season ends next weekend in Oslo with the 50 k men’s and 30 k women’s freestyle mass start races.