CCC RACE Report: Alex Harvey agonizingly close to the podium in 4th

    February 24, 2018

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    It started out as a nice day for the men's 50km classic mass start event, the final men's race on the Pyeongchang cross-country ski program. Temperatures were -7 and sunny, with clouds and a bit of snow rolling in for the final half of the competition.

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    There was lots of Canadian support in the crowd, including Les Parsons, Beckie Scott's coach from Vermilion, leading the cheerleading in the crowd with his horn.

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    Canada was represented by Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw, 2 veteran racers for their country, in what would probably be their last Olympic race, and 2 younger skiers Graeme Killick, who was a question mark for starting due picking up a bit of a cold and Russell Kennedy.

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    24.02.2018, Pyeongchang, Korea (KOR): Alex Harvey (CAN) - XXIII. Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, cross-country, mass men, Pyeongchang (KOR). www.nordicfocus.com. © Thibaut/NordicFocus.

    The first 15 kilometres saw a fairly large group at the front, with the Norwegian's and Iivo Niskanen of Finland taking many of the turns at the lead with Alex always close to the front. The other Canadians were skiing pretty much  inside the top 30, with Devon possibly missing a chance to catch on with the main group, after snapping a pole early on.

    Close to the 20k mark Niskanen teamed up with the Kazakh, Alexey Poltoranin and started a bit of a break from the top group, with Niklas Dyrhaug of Norway eventually joining up with them.

    Not far behind was a chase group that included Martin Sundby of Norway, Alex and Dario Cologna, and Alexander Bolshunov, of the Olympic Athletes of Russia.

    At the 27k mark Bolshunov switched up skis, briefly dropping off the chase pack, before finding quite a long burst of energy from somewhere, that accelerated him past the chasers, in pursuit of the lead.

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    24.02.2018, Pyeongchang, Korea (KOR): Alex Harvey (CAN) - XXIII. Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, cross-country, mass men, Pyeongchang (KOR). www.nordicfocus.com. © Thibaut/NordicFocus.

    Close to 30k, Dyrhaug was long gone from the front, and Poltoranin started to drop off from Niskanen. Russell Kennedy was skiing in 27th, together with Devon Kershaw in 28th and Graeme Killick in 29th.

    Bolshunov caught and passed Poltoranin and then caught Niskanen around 37k, where they skied together.

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    The chase group

    At this point Poltoranin was fading a bit and in "no-mans land" between the leaders and a chase group that included OAR athlete Larkov, Sundby, Alex and Hans Holund of Norway.

    At 42.54k Niskanen stopped to change skis and Bolshunov put on another of his quick spurts of energy to make up some distance on the Finn. It was all for nought however as the Finn, came back to the front courtesy of a very fast and well waxed pair of skis.

    Farther back down the trail, the chase pack caught and passed an exhausted Poltoranin, with 4 skiers now vying for what was probably a bronze medal.

    With 1k to go Niskanen used his downhill speed to break away from the OAR athlete and cruise to victory.

    On the last hill Larkov found an energy boost from somewhere and quickly dropped Sundby, Harvey and Holund to grab the bronze medal. It was eerily reminiscent of how the Russian's captured the top 3 medal positions in the Sochi 50k.

    Alex out-reached Sundby at the line to finish 4th, a few seconds from the podium.

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    24.02.2018, Pyeongchang, Korea (KOR): Alex Harvey (CAN), Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR), (l-r) - XXIII. Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, cross-country, mass men, Pyeongchang (KOR). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

    Devon Kershaw came across the line in 26th, followed by Graeme Killick in 27th and Russell Kennedy in 49th. 3 top 27's is a strong result for the Canadian men.

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    24.02.2018, Pyeongchang, Korea (KOR): Graeme Killick (CAN) - XXIII. Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, cross-country, mass men, Pyeongchang (KOR). www.nordicfocus.com. © Thibaut/NordicFocus.

    Alex set a new standard for a Canadian finish in the Olympic 50k, with 4th, but he and Devon can discuss if it was a better result than Devon's 5th in Vancouver, .6 seconds from the podium.

    Alex Harvey Interview

    Alex Harvey Entrevue

    Graeme Killick Interview


    Russell Kennedy Interview

    Next up tomorrow the women's 30k classic mass start, 1:15 AM EST Sunday Feb 25.

    Live Event Replay

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