QUEBEC CITY — After an off-day, the Ski Tour Canada picked up again a bit farther east in Québec City with Stage 3: the men’s and women’s freestyle sprints on Friday. Hometown hero Alex Harvey came up big in front of thousands of fans, skiing in second for most of the final and challenging the frontrunner, Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, for the win in the finishing stretch. In the end, another French-speaking skier, France’s Baptiste Gros took the victory.
“At the top of the last uphill, I was right behind Ustiugov in the best position possible,” Harvey said in a post-race press conference. “I thought I could win this one, but then Baptiste passed me on my right and surprised everyone.”
Harvey held on for second place, 0.55 seconds behind, and Ustiugov placed third (+0.79). Behind them, Norway’s Petter Northug placed fourth (+1.91), Maciej Starega of Poland took fifth (+2.12) and France’s Richard Jouve was sixth (+2.18).
“Right now, I’m in the best shape of this season,” Harvey noted at the press conference. “That was the goal.”
In the women’s final, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson fended off four Norwegians for the win, beating out Maiken Caspersen Falla by 0.11 seconds at the line. By making the semifinals, Falla achieved her season-long goal and locked up the Sprint World Cup title. Falla led the Norwegians in second place and Heidi Weng was third (+0.56) to take the lead in the overall Tour. Behind her in the sprint, fellow Norwegians Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen placed fourth (+1.09) and fifth (+1.57), ahead Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter in sixth (+9.43).
Four U.S. women finished in the top 20, with Sadie Bjornsen leading them in eighth, and Simi Hamilton as the top American man in eighth. Canada’s second man behind Harvey, Jess Cockney had his best race of the season by far to place 10th overall. Two other U.S. Ski Team members made the heats, with Erik Bjornsen finishing 20th overall and Andy Newell 29th.
Stay tuned for comprehensive reports on both races. For now, check out some photos from the day.