Alex Harvey digs deeps for 11th place finish in World Cup 15-km race

Alex Harvey of St-Férréol-les-Neiges, Que., woke up flatter than expected after a 25th-place finish in the sprint race, but the veteran dug deep to finish 11th in the men’s 15-kilometre individual classic in Ruka, Finland on Sunday.

'It is tough when you wake up and you know you don’t have it,' says Canadian skier

Canada's Alex Harvey, pictured above at a race in March, was hoping for a top-10 finish and says he was "right on target" in the men's 15-km World Cup race in Ruka, Finland on Sunday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Alex Harvey of St-Férréol-les-Neiges, Que., woke up flatter than expected after a 25th-place finish in the sprint race, but the veteran dug deep to finish 11th in the men's 15-kilometre individual classic in Ruka, Finland on Sunday.

"I think the cold weather and first day of racing just sucked a lot more energy out of me than expected. I had really heavy legs this morning so I tried to jump-start the engine a little bit with a longer jog than normal," said Harvey.

"It is tough when you wake up and you know you don't have it, but there are days I have woken up like this and finished on the podium too. I just adjusted my morning routine, made sure to break into a good sweat and get the engine a little more warmed up than usual."

Finland's Iivo Niskanen won the race with a time of 35 minutes, 27.6 seconds. Emil Iversen was second at 35:37.8, while Martin Johnsrud Sundby placed third place with a time of 35:38.8.

Experience paid off for the 28-year-old Harvey as he was able to shake off the rust and grind out a strong effort over the three loops on the five-km course that tests the world's best with three long, steep hills.

"The goal was to be in that group with the top-10, or close to it, so I was right on target today," said Harvey, who finished 35 seconds behind the winner at 36:02.6. 

"Individual starts are difficult because you have to start at a pace that feels hard, but you know you need to hold it for 35 minutes, and you are battling against yourself which is really different than a mass start. 

Harvey was 16th after the first lap, but he slowly edged closer to finishing in the elite group of 10 and missed the mark by just two seconds.

Solid performance for Kershaw

Canada's Devon Kershaw, who has been showing strong form in his World Cup tune-up races, also put down a solid performance on Sunday. The Sudbury, Ont. resident finished 33rd and just outside the points with a time of 36:51.0. 

"The race wasn't great, but not bad either. It was just a solid effort to start the distance season," Kershaw said.

Graeme Killick of Fort McMurray, Alta., (53rd) at 37:40.5, Toronto's Len Valjas (76th) and Jesse Cockney of Canmore, Alta. (78th), Knute Johnsgaard, of Whitehorse (85th) Andy Shields, of Thunder Bay, Ont., (91st) rounded out the Canadian results in the race.

Valuable experience for young Canadians

A trio of young Canadians gaining valuable experience on the World Cup finished in the middle of the pack of the women's 10-kilometre classic-ski race.

Cendrine Browne, a 21-year-old rookie from St-Jérôme, Que., led the way for the Canada in the women's 10-km race, placing 58th at 30:00.0.

Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, finished on Browne's heels after clocking-in at 30:02.3 for 59th spot, while Dahria Beatty, also of Whitehorse, placed 74th with a time of 30:49.6.

Norway's Marit Bjoergen won with a time of 26:55.2. Finland's Krista Parmakoski was second at 26:59.8, and Norway's Heidi Weng was third with a time of 27:07.9.

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