• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Alex Harvey Storms into 14th on Snowy Fourth Stage of Tour de Ski in Germany

      January 2, 2019

      OBERSTDORF, Ger.—Alex Harvey led the Canadian charge through heavy snow, warm and challenging wax conditions while finishing 14th in a tight men’s 15-kilometre classic-ski mass start race, marking the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany on Wednesday.
       
      With heavy snow considerably slowing down the lead pack of the world’s best Nordic skiers, the St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. product comfortably managed his six laps around the 2.5-kilometre loop to finish with a time of 45:39.3.
       
      “It was snowing hard the whole way, so it was really hard for anyone to get away but I felt really good today,” said Harvey, who now sits 15th in the overall Tour standings.
       
      “It was a hard wax day for everyone, but our team did a really good job. Everything we feared happened with lots of snow coming down and temperatures around zero, but our guys met the challenge and we had really good skis.”
       
      The top-15 athletes were separated by just nine seconds. Harvey crossed the finish line with a pack of five athletes, whose spots were determined by a photo finish.
       
      “Everyone was really skiing in one track, so the outside track was much slower which made it hard to get away or to come back,” said Harvey.  “The feeling today is the best I have had in a distance race this year. I have been feeling really laboured so having this good feeling for the whole race will really help a lot for the confidence. The goal this year has always been World Championships so that is what I’m looking for right now moreso than results.”
       
      Harvey was mixing it up at the front pack for the first 10 kilometres before dropping just off the lead group for the final two laps.
       
      “We were fighting all the time to stay near the front. I didn’t do a great job in the fifth lap, but I went to the (slower) outside track for the sixth lap and probably used up a little more energy doing that but was feeling quite good,” added Harvey. “Of course I want more, and want to be in the top-10, top-five, but I’m taking things step-by-step.”
       
      Norway’s Emil Iversen was first across the finish line, claiming the stage with a time of 45:30.3. Italy’s Francesco De Fabiani was second at 45:31.2, while Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov locked up third spot at 45:32.3.
       
      Bob Thompson, of Thunder Bay, Ont., continued to gain valuable experience in his first Tour de Ski, placing 64th at 47:12.8. Toronto’s Len Valjas was 67th with a time of 47:56.4.
       
      Qualifying outside of the top-30 in both of the sprint races in the first half of the Tour, it was the second 14th-place finish in as many distance races for the 30-year-old Harvey who welcomed the arrival of the first mass start race format on the seven-race trek through Europe.
       
      “It was really fun today. That’s my favourite type of racing so it was good to get more into pack racing and ski near the front,” said the three-time Olympian. “There were some intermediate sprint bonus points out there today that I got as well. I’m in a good position a few guys I want to be around for the pursuit race so I’m hoping to get back into the top-10, top-five.
       
      “You always have to start the pursuits faster. Everybody is trying to catch the guys ahead of you. You have to go out hard in those races. I will cross my fingers and hope the body will recover from the first surge and hold on. If I feel like today it should be no problem.”
       
       
      Emily Nishikawa was the lone Canadian to suit up for the women’s 10-kilometre mass start classic-ski race in Germany.
       
      The 29-year-old settled into the middle of the elite field where she clocked a time of 34:27.6.

      "We had tough conditions out there today, with lots of new snow. I fell and broke my ski early on in the race, but I’m proud of the way I fought back to have a strong finish. I am looking forward to the next stages. I’m feeling good and focusing on recovery to have some more great opportunities in the next few days," said Nishikawa.
       
      The two-time Olympian climbed seven spots in the back half of the race to finish in 34th for her best result in her first career Tour de Ski.
       
      Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg topped two Russian athletes for the top spot on the women’s podium in the fourth stage. Oestberg won the stage with a time of 32:08.9. Natalia Nepryaeva was second at 32:09.0, while Anastasia Sedova placed third at 32:14.2.
       
       
      The Tour continues in Oberstdorf, Germany on Thursday with the men’s and women’s pursuit races.
       
      The 13th annual Tour de Ski consists of seven races over nine days in three countries. The featured event on the Nordic calendar – outside of the Olympics and World Championships – tests some of the most physically and mentally fit athletes in the world to determine the king and queen of cross-country skiing when they cross the finish line of the Tour, ending with a 425-metre climb to the top of Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme, Italy on January 6.
       
      CCC is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Swix and Lanctôt Sports– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us at www.cccski.com.