Canadian contingent heads to Quebec for world cup finals
Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 06:00 am
World champion Alex Harvey will have home field advantage in his battle for a top-three finish in the overall FIS cross-country standings, as races move to Quebec City this weekend.
With 844 points, Harvey sits third overall behind runaway leader Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby (1,626 points) and Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov (1,176 points) in the point standings. Finland’s Matti Heikkinen is neck and neck with Harvey, trailing the Canadian phenom by a mere seven points. A world cup win is worth 100 points.
“The main goal is to keep the third place overall standing. There is no question this has been the best year of my career. It would be nice to have three good races, and maybe a podium too,” Harvey said.
The last time Canada had an athlete in the top three was 2011, when Devon Kershaw finished second in the overall standings.
Harvey led the Canadians in the penultimate race of the season when he finished sixth in the 50 kilometre classic ski marathon in Holmenkollen, Norway. The race came down to a sprint finish for bronze, with Iivo Niskanen of Finland emerging victorious, two-tenths of a second ahead of Harvey.
“I had a really bad sprint today. The conditions were really warm and wet. I was cramping all over the place so it wasn’t a good finish. But I’m in good shape and have to be happy with sixth,” Harvey said.
Quebec City races kick off Friday (March 17) with the women’s sprint. The 10 km and 15 km mass start races will take place on Saturday (March 18), while the season will end with a pursuit race, Sunday (March 19).
Canada has announced its massive team of 30 skiers selected for world cup finals in Quebec. Since the race is in Canada, FIS allows for an increased number of quota spots.
Canmore skiers include Dahria Beatty, Emily Nishikawa, Cendrine Browne, Annika Hicks and Andrea Dupont on the women’s team. Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and Maya MacIsaac-Jones were also selected, but declined due to injury.
On the men’s side, Jess Cockney, Knute Johnsgaard, Russell Kennedy, Julien Locke and Brian McKeever will join world cup regulars Devon Kershaw, Len Valjas, and Graeme Killick.
Alberta World Cup Academy coach Chris Jeffries said the races will be a learning experience for many of the Canadian athletes.
“To say you raced against the very best athletes in the world, if you can’t get excited about that, there’s something off. Chances are most people when they do their first world cup, it’s not always pretty. You don’t sleep the night before, there is so much that goes into it. But you have to start somewhere,” Jeffries said. “For the others, it’s an opportunity to build upon their tool box.”
The Canadian contingent includes Browne, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Sophie Carrier-Laforte, Katie Weaver, Annika Richardson, Lisle Compton, Hicks, Sadie White, Gareth Williams, Andy Shileds, Bob Thompson, Joey Foster, Evan Palmer-Charrette and Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier.