Alex Harvey has celebrated podium performances around the world, but nothing in his mind compared to the fourth-place effort he put down Friday at the penultimate stage of the eight-race Ski Tour Canada on the Canmore Nordic Centre trails in Alberta.
"It is one of the best races of my life here," said Harvey. "A top-five is really unexpected for me today. I really think it is one of the best performances of my life."
The 27-year-old leader of the Canadian squad was up for the challenge and powered his way through the slow conditions with his eyes focused squarely on the podium, clocking a time of 35 minutes and 38 seconds.
"I have just had a lot of bad races here in Canmore," said Harvey, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. "This specific course just doesn't suit my style of skiing.
"I never thought I'd be strong racing internationally on a course like this. Now being fourth tells me, and shows kids, anything is possible."
Starting in 34th spot, the four-time World Championship medallist was targeting his 18th career World Cup medal for most of the day.
Leading throughout the first half of the race, Harvey crossed the finish line in second where he agonizingly waited for the rest of the field to finish.
Dropping to third with the first 50 athletes having completed the course, it was late starter Marcus Hellner of Sweden nudging Harvey off the podium.
"The skis were so fast today. They were awesome," said Harvey. "The guys have given us the best skis over the last two days which was a big difference."
Finland's Matti Heikkinen clocked a golden time of 35:16.3. Russia's Evgeniy Belov was second at 35:29.9, while Sweden's Hellner was 13.9 second behind the leading pace at 35:30.2.
The Canadian men's team had two other top-20 finishes on the day.
Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., delivered the first back-to-back 10th-place finish of his career.
Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., skied to the final spot in the top-20. The three-time Olympian stopped the clock at 36:46.3 for 20th.
Norway continues domination
Norwegian women continued their domination of the Ski Tour Canada with Ingvid Flugstag Oestberg winning Friday's interval start.
Oestberg was the fastest in the 10-kilometre, skate-ski race in a time of 23 minutes, 20.1 seconds. Her teammate and overall tour leader Heidi Weng finished 23 seconds back in second.
Finland's Krista Parmakoskki prevented a Norwegian podium sweep finishing third ahead of Kari Oeyre Slind.
Saturday's 10k pursuit at the Canmore Nordic Centre is the last of eight races in the Canadian ski tour. Norwegian women have swept the podium in four and taken gold in all but one.
Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse was the top Canadian in 35th.
Norwegians held down the top four positions in the overall tour rankings. Therese Johaug trailed Weng by 30 seconds.