Harvey bronze in Tour de Ski
Thursday, Jan 05, 2017 06:00 am
Cross-country ski phenom Alex Harvey finally broke through with a bronze medal on Wednesday (Jan. 3) in the 15 kilometre skate, while Canmore’s Devon Kershaw cracked the top-10 for the first time in two years as Canadians showed great form in the always arduous Tour de Ski.
Harvey has been charging for a podium all year, and finally broke through with his first medal of the season, and 18th of his career to take bronze with a time of 39:07.3 in soft snow. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov won his fourth stage in a row (37:58.5), followed by Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway.
“It feels really good. I was really close (Tuesday) in fourth and have been in the top-10 a lot since the beginning of the season so it is a bit of a relief,” said Harvey.
“Being in the top-10 this many times, you feel like it is a matter of time until you finally get on the podium, but you also get a little antsy too. I had targeted yesterday’s race as the one for me on the tour, and to finish fourth was a bit of a heartbreaker. But, I have been motivated by the results early in the season, which has also given me confidence in my ability. It’s just nice to finally get a podium.”
Harvey worked with Swiss skier Dario Cologna throughout the race, and the battle for the bronze came down to a sprint finish. Cologna had bested Harvey the day before in the 20-km skiathlon, and the Quebec speed merchant wasn’t willing to repeat that performance.
“I had chatted with Cologna yesterday that we were going to ski together. I was not taking it easy and he caught me at the five-kilometre mark so I knew he was working hard. We took turns leading over the next three laps. He asked me to pull a bit more on the final lap, but that is when it is all strategy and I was getting ready to charge on a big uphill,” said Harvey, who finished just off the podium behind Cologna in Tuesday’s skiathlon.
“The way the day was set up it was going to be a one-on-one battle for third. I got dropped on the hill yesterday so I wanted to make sure that I hit the base of the hill with good legs. I knew if I managed that hill right I could take him in the sprint today. I crested over the last hill in his skis and was able to sprint ahead of him in the finish.”
Harvey is now ranked third on the Tour de Ski, which finishes with three races in Italy, including a harrowing hill climb up Val di Fiemme.
Kershaw finished 21st on the day, while Graeme Killick was 43rd. Len Valjas did not start Wednesday’s race.
In Tuesday’s skiathlon, Harvey finished fourth, while Kershaw was on fire in 10th. He led the field in the classic portion of the 20 km race, and stuck with the lead pack in the skate.
“It was just an excellent day for me. I woke up and I felt really good. I felt amazing in the warmup and all of my classic skis I tested felt really good,” said Kershaw.
“I took a lot of confidence in that while climbing the steep hill, and it just continued throughout the race. The guys (wax techs) gave me excellent equipment as they have all year and I’m just incredibly satisfied. It feels that extra little bit special since it has been a while for me.”
Kershaw is one of only three athletes to compete in each of the past 11 Tour de Ski events. The cagey veteran knows what it takes to survive a tour format event, and said the result is a great confidence booster.
“That was some of the best I’ve felt in classic skiing in my career. I have been feeling good in classic all year. It’s weird though, I feel I have been slightly on the wrong side of things and today I was able to ski at the top and also hold my own in the skate,” added Kershaw, who finished fourth overall at the 2012 Tour de Ski.
Valjas was 37th and Killick 50th in the skiathlon.