Alex Harvey skis to silver at final cross-country World Cup in home province
Retiring Canadian Olympian takes 2nd place in men's 15K
Canadian cross-country skier Alex Harvey won silver on Saturday in his penultimate race before retirement.
He finished second in the FIS World Cup 15-kilometre classic-ski mass start with a time of 36 minutes 11.7 seconds. Johannes Klaebo (36:10.9) edged Harvey at the line and fellow Norwegian Didrik Toenseth (36:12.2) took the bronze.
Harvey, who will close out his career Sunday, was overcome with emotion after crossing the finish line.
"This is incredible. It makes for a great swan song. I can't believe it," Harvey said before breaking into tears. "It is pretty special to be able to give back to everyone who has supported me, and the wax techs today."
Harvey, 30, announced his retirement plans last month. The three-time Olympian has won five world championship medals — including two gold — over his career and made 31 World Cup podium appearances.
"I don't remember being this emotional about a podium," Harvey said.
WATCH | Harvey skis to silver on home snow:
The hometown hero stayed at the front of the pack with all of the top names in the sport for each of the four loops on the Plains of Abraham course where he grew up racing as a child.
Conserving his energy in a large pack that was strung out along the rolling terrain, the St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., native responded to a surge at the midway point of the race by the two Norwegians and Russia's Alexander Bolshunov.
"Watching the girls' race on television, I knew there were lots of falls and I needed to stay at the front of the pack," said Harvey. "In the middle of the race, [Federico] Pellegrino almost pushed me into a tree and Klaebo fell in front of me. I was lucky enough to stay on my feet, avoid the carnage and not break any equipment.
"I stayed aggressive even if the 15 kilometres is a shorter distance for the guys."
Spurred on by the boisterous Canadian crowd while skiing in a pack of five around the final loop, it became a battle between four athletes when Russia's Alexander Bolshunov broke a pole with two kilometres to go.
Drafting behind the leaders in the final descent into the stadium, Harvey made his move circling back down the finish stretch where he double-poled to the finish.
"The crowd allowed me to reach the podium today," he said. "It was insane how loud they were. This is their medal today not mine. I knew I needed my best race of the year to be on the podium and I did that today. It is unreal and pretty special."
Alex Harvey fans go wild<a href="https://twitter.com/NordiqCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NordiqCanada</a> <a href="https://t.co/cS5KgVUjfK">pic.twitter.com/cS5KgVUjfK</a>—@otterwa
It was Harvey's second podium appearance of the season. He won bronze in Week 2 in Lillehammer, Norway.
"This year has been a bit more complicated," he said. "To get back on the podium I wouldn't say is unexpected because I always believe in my chances. But I had to do a lot of mental work this week before the sprint to get rid of bad thoughts, and focus on the task ahead to have the best chance to get on the podium."
It was Klaebo's 11th World Cup individual victory this season. The two Norwegians moved Harvey into the top spot on the podium for pictures.
Valjas also calling it quits
Toronto's Len Valjas, who is also retiring after Sunday's race, was 32nd.
Harvey will be back on the start line one final time Sunday for the 15-kilometre pursuit race. He'll start second behind Klaebo based on the results of the first two races of the mini-tour.
"I want to do the same tomorrow," said Harvey. "Klaebo will have a good start on me, but I am going to go for the podium."
Earlier, Whitehorse native Emily Nishikawa was 38th in the women's 10-kilometre classic-ski mass start race.
Sweden's Stina Nilsson won gold in a photo finish with a time of 25:51. Therese Johaug was second in 25:51.8 and Norwegian teammate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg was third in 25:53.1.
The women will also have a 10-kilometre pursuit race Sunday.