Alex Harvey held off podium at 1st of final cross-country races in Quebec
Canadian Olympian places 10th in World Cup sprint race
Canadian cross-country legend Alex Harvey was held off the podium in one of the last races of his storied career, but he says he's still well positioned for a fitting finale on home turf.
Harvey was 10th at an FIS World Cup sprint race Friday after missing a spot in the six-skier final heat by less than one second.
Norway's Johannes Klaebo edged out Italian Federico Pellegrino and fellow Norwegian Sindre Skar in the in the 1,650-metre race held on the Plains of Abraham, with a brisk wind and light snow. The victory secured the FIS sprint championship for the 22-year-old Klaebo.
"Of course I wanted to make the final, I won't deny it," said Harvey, a native Saint-Ferreol-les-Neiges, just east of Quebec's capital. "But given the season that I've had, it's very, very satisfying. I haven't ranked among the top 30 in the sprint since December.
'Other guys were faster'
"It was full gas the whole way. The other guys were just faster. The crowd was great even though the weather wasn't perfect. There was a lot of cheering at the start and I could hear them chanting my name."
Harvey, 30, announced his retirement from competition last month, brining a close to a career that saw him pile up five world championship medals, including two gold, and 30 World Cup podium appearances.
The pinnacle of his career came two years ago when he won the punishing 50k marathon world title in Finland. A month later, he won the World Cup sprint at home.
Last year he came fourth in the 50k at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a missed podium that he said later was emotional point in his career "without the happy ending."
Harvey said he's looking forward to the two remaining races to keep his hopes of a farewell podium in Quebec City alive. Harvey is expected to compete in Saturday's 15-km mass start race and Sunday's 15k freestyle pursuit. A large hometown crowd is likely to be on hand to cheer on and thank Harvey, arguably Canada's all-time top cross-country skier.
"This is only the beginning. The sprinters are going to lose time tomorrow. I am in the top-10 so it will be exciting. The goal is to be well-positioned for Sunday's start," said Harvey. "Today I showed my form to the other distance guys, so I think it's a good message."
Swedes sweep women's sprint
The women's sprint race was a Swedish podium sweep. Twenty-five-year-old Stina Nilsson edged Maja Dahlqvist at the finish line, with Jonna Sundling just behind.
"Quebec is always of one my favourite places to race. I always seem to do well here in the sprint," Nilsson said, noting she's looking forward to races in the United States next season.
No Canadian women made the cut for the 30-skier heats. The top Canadian finisher was Dahria Beatty, of Whitehorse, 41st in a field of 75. Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Que., finished 44th.