Alex Harvey Sprints into 10th on Plains of Abraham at World Cup Finals

    March 22, 2019

    QUEBEC CITY—Alex Harvey began a swan song weekend to his storied career with a 10th-place sprint finish at the World Cup Finals in Quebec City on Friday.
     
    Searching for a bit of magic after announcing he will retire following the last three races on home snow this weekend, the 30-year-old had his best sprint finish in fourth months, securing his first spot in the head-to-head heats with the top-30 qualifiers since a bronze-medal triumph in Lillehammer in December.
     
    “It was really good. I knew I needed to start by qualifying,” said Harvey, who locked up a spot in the heats after posting the 23rd fastest time in his qualifying spin around the 1.6 kilometre track.
     
    “I was feeling good after the qualifications. The conditions were tough. I felt good in the warm-up, but during the race, I didn’t feel that good.”
     
    Growing up down the highway in St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., Harvey thrilled the hometown faithful while grinding through a quarter-final heat where he played his tactics to perfection. With snow plummeting down on the skate-sprint battle field on the Plains of Abraham, the three-time Olympian tucked in near the back of the pack, catching a draft up and down the rolling terrain.
     
    Moving into fourth spot before the final descent into the stadium, Harvey made his move on the flats where he jumped into second spot and never looked back, earning a spot on the starting line in the semifinals.
     
    “I gave a good show in the quarter-finals and kept the fans on their toes, so it was fun,” said Harvey, who cites one of the most emotional victories of his career was when he won the sprint race in Quebec City two years ago.
     
    The five heats in the opening round consists of six athletes racing head-to-head. The top-two athletes in each heat advance to the next round, along with the next two fastest times overall.
     
    “This is only my third time qualifying on the World Cup, other than the World Championships where I was out in the quarters. The goal on every sprint day is to make it to the semis so to do that is great.”
     
    Heavy winds and soft, slushy snow conditions gave the world’s best all they could handle in the round of 12.
     
    Exercising a similar tactic off the line in the semis, Harvey raced around most of the 1.6-kilometre loop in fifth place but didn’t have the pop in his final surge towards the finish, to lock up a spot in the final.
     
    “It was full gas the whole way. The other guys were just faster,” said Harvey. “The crowd was great even though the weather wasn’t perfect. There was a lot of cheering at the start and I could hear them chanting my name.”
     
    Norway’s Johannes Klaebo continued his dominance of the World Cup sprints, winning the men’s race. Italy’s Federico Pellegrino was second, while Sindre Skar snagged third spot on the podium.
    Harvey is well positioned in 10th spot after the first of the three-race mini-tour in Quebec City. Athletes will compete in a 15-kilometre mass start classic-ski race on Saturday, followed by a 15-kilometre pursuit skate-ski race on Sunday. Athletes will start the final pursuit race time-behind-the-leader based on the results of the first two races.
     
    “This is only the beginning. The sprinters are going to lose time tomorrow. I am in the top-10 so it will be exciting. The goal is to be well-positioned for Sunday’s start,” said Harvey. “Today I showed my form to the other distance guys, so I think it’s a good message.”
     
    None of the Canadian women qualified for the round of 30. Dahria Beatty, of Whitehorse, was the top Canuck in 40th spot.
     
    “It wasn’t the best day. The conditions were tough, but I just tried to leave it all out there on the course,” said Beatty. “The crowd was great. It’s nice to be back racing a World Cup at home.”
     
    The Swedes swept the women’s medals. Stina Nilsson jumped onto the top step of the podium. Maja Dahlqvist was second. Jonna Sundling joined in the blue and yellow podium celebration after finishing third.
     
    Complete Results: https://bit.ly/2FtRs0v
     
    For more information on the World Cup Finals in Quebec City: https://cdmskidefondquebec.com/ 
     
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