Canadian Alex Harvey was 11th in the skate-ski sprint at the Ski Tour Canada competition Tuesday.

Russia's Sergey Ustiugov captured the opening stage ahead of France's Richard Jouve. American Simeon Hamilton was third.

Harvey, of Saint-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., appeared poised to make a late move in the semifinal round. But nearly falling killed any hopes of reaching the podium.

"I was better positioned in the semis, but I almost crashed in that final corner and it scrubbed my speed," Harvey said. "I felt really good as the day went on.

"The crowd was awesome today and really loud so it was a great start."

Harvey rallied to take fourth in a photo finish in his quarter-final heat. It was the fastest heat of the day, which allowed Harvey to secure one of two lucky loser spots and advance to the next round.

Knute Johnsgaard, 23, of Whitehorse, competing in his second World Cup sprint, was the 29th fastest qualifier and wound up 30th in the event.

"That was pretty awesome. My goal all year was to qualify for the sprint heats so to do it is a great feeling," said Johnsgaard. "I wasn't really intimidated racing against these guys. I really wanted to make the best of the experience. I thought my shape was pretty good coming into the Tour so this shows me that it is and I should be fine for the rest of the way. I hope to be able to build on this and qualify again in Quebec City."

Norwegian leads women's sprinters

Norway's Maiken Casspersen Falla topped the women's sprint field, ahead of Stina Nilsson of Sweden and Jessica Diggins of the United States. 20-year-old Maya MacIssac-Jones, of Athabasca, Alta. earned her first World Cup points with a 29th-place finish.

"I'm so excited. It means a lot to me to be in the points. I think it is great for Canadian women to have someone in the points, and I hope this inspires the other women skiers on the tour with me. I think this shows we can be in the mix," said MacIsaac-Jones, who was recently 31st at a World Cup in Planica, Slovenia while taking part in Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada's development strategy to provide elite race opportunities for its next generation of athletes.

The young Albertan skied at the back of her heat throughout the 1.7-kilometre race, but was able to hold her own with the fastest women in the world on skinny skis.

"My goal was to just to stick with them," said MacIsaac-Jones. "I honestly have never skied that fast in my life. I really just wanted to hang on. I was happy I was able to do that and not finish too far off the pace."

Quebec's largest City will now host the second stage on Wednesday – a 13- and 20-kilometre classic-ski mass start race in Montreal's Parc du Mont-Royal – the oldest skiing site in Canada.

With files from Cross Country Canada, CBC Sports