Alex Harvey battles to second podium finish this season

03 March 2012 18:20
Alex Harvey goes for third place in Lahti Skiathlon
Alex Harvey goes for third place in Lahti Skiathlon -

LAHTI, Fin.— Alex Harvey captured his secondpodium finish of the season after finishing third in a World Cup skiathlon race in Lahti, Finland on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Canadian cross-country ski phenom, who won a silver medal in the penultimate stage of the nine-race Tour de Ski earlier this year, battled his way up and down the hills of the challenging 30-kilometreLahti course to secure the bronze medal with a time of 1:07:34.7.

Athletes ski 15 kilometres in the classic technique, followed by 15 more kilometres in skate-skiing. Athletes enter a transitionzone between the two legs with the clock still running.

"It was a good race today for me. Every time I am on the podium it's good," said Harvey following the fifth podium finish of his three-year career on the World Cup circuit. "With 90 skiers on the start line the race was tight especially in the corners. I had to becareful, but luckily nobody crashed before me. I like mass starts, I like the adrenaline."

Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., executed his race tactics perfectly on the hard and fast conditions within the lead group that included his World Cup comrade, Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont. The gap narrowed to 16 athletes with 10 kilometres to go, but it came down to a handful of athletes, including Harvey, who remained in the fight for the medals at the finish.

“It was really tight, but you have to stay on top of your game,” said Harvey, who moved up one spot into sixth overall on the World Cup after grabbing valuable bonus points throughout the day. “I tried to stay out front between five and 10th spot, and on the outside on corners. The key is to be able to react if something happens.”

“We are still recovering from our altitude camp, but I feel in good shape, I just feel I don’t have the speed that I usually have which is normal after being at altitude.”

Overall World Cup leader, Dario Cologna of Switzerland, pulled away from the field with two kilometres remaining to handily win the gold with a time of 1:07:30.5. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby locked up the silver at 1:07:34.2.

Sitting third in the Overall World Cup standings heading into the race, Devon Kershaw was on a mission for bonus points that were up for grabs in four stations throughout the race. The 29-year-old racked up 63 points after winning three out of four check points, but that strategy along with a fall at the 11-kilometre mark may have cost him a spot on the podium. Kershaw, who remains in a tie for third in the overall standings, finished for 14th spot with a time of 1:08:18.1.

Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., was the only other Canadian male in the field and finished 36th (1:10:12.2).

Meanwhile, Daria Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., finished as the top Canadian in the women’s 15-kilometre skiathlon. The 2010 Olympian clocked a time of 39:45.6 to finish 37th. Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., was 50th (40:32.3), while rookie, Alysson Marshall of Salmon Arm, B.C., rounded out the Canadian contingent in 52nd (40:55.2).

Contributed by Chris Dornan, Cross-Country Canada