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Canada's Alex Harvey missed gold by six-tenths of a second on Sunday. ((Philippe Montigny/Getty Images))

Canada's Alex Harvey captured silver Sunday in a cross-country skiing World Cup sprint race in an ideal warmup for the upcoming world championships.

Battling two of the world's top sprinters in Emil Joensson of Sweden and Norway's Petter Northug, Harvey bided his time over the long gradual climbs of the 1.6-kilometre freestyle race.

The skier from St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., made his move in the final third of the race to record his best-ever World Cup result, missing gold by just 0.6 seconds.

Joensson held off Harvey to win in three minutes 4.8 seconds. Northug was third, 0.9 seconds back.

"I felt flat this morning and in the qualifier so I just tried to position myself well for the final and it worked out perfect," Harvey said. "To be able to battle with two of the world's fastest skiers is a huge confidence booster for me especially considering I felt sluggish."

Harvey, 22, was battling fatigue after a hard bout of training in preparation for the world championships, which begin Wednesday in Oslo, Norway. The Canadian slogged his way through the early rounds to make Sunday's final.

It has been a breakout season for Harvey. The skier from St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., has won three World Cup bronze medals and picked up his first world title in the men's 30-kilometre pursuit race at the under-23 world championships.

"I am really happy," Harvey said. "The last time I medalled on the World Cup was in Norway so it is pretty special to get on the podium here again especially four days before the start of the world championships."

Kikkan Randall of the United States won the women's gold, finishing the 1.2-kilometre freestyle race in 2:17.2 for her third career victory. Caspersen Falla crossed 0.3 seconds behind and Charlotte Kalla of Sweden was third, 0.6 seconds back.

Chandra Crawford of Canmore, Alta., was 14th, while Daria Gaiazova of Banff, Alta., was 20th.

Randall also won a freestyle sprint in Liberec, Czech Republic, in January. Her first World Cup victory came in the same event in Rybinsk, Russia, in 2007.