Haywood RACE Report: Alex Harvey 2nd, in Seefeld World Cup Mass Start 15k

    January 28, 2018


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    The final World Cup race before the Olympics was a 15k skate mass start. It was a chance for the Olympic bound athletes to test their form and make decisions on their approach to final preparations for Pyeongchang. Temperatures were just above zero and the tracks were fast as the athletes headed out on the 2015 World Championships course.

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    In yesterday's sprint quarterfinals Alex Harvey showed a tremendous burst of speed, moving from last to first in the final few hundred metres. It would be interesting to see if he can show that form in the mass start today.

    In an interview on Saturday, Alex said he was a bit tired, after a fairly heavy training period, and was using this weekend as a final load before tapering for Pyeongchang. Nonetheless he was going to go all out in the race, his last before Korea.

    The early leader was Russia's Ustiugov who made a small gap on the field in the first kilometre. Why he and 2 female team members were racing is perplexing, considering they are banned by the IOC from competing in Pyeongchang, due to doping infractions. What is also interesting is that 7 of the Russian athletes that will compete in Korea, were not at the last World cup race before the Olympics...

    Despite the fast early pace, Alex was skiing comfortably in the top 12,  keeping track of the leaders and being sure to avoid any of crashes that had plagued the 15k in the Tour de Ski.



    By the 5k mark Ustiugov had dialed back the pace and was in 14th, with Hans Holund of Norway, Maurice Manificat of France and Dario Cologna of Switzerland, controlling the lead. Graeme Killick had made good progress over the first part of the course, moving 40 places up the field, from 69th to 29th, 9 seconds from the lead. Devon Kershaw was 47th.

    At the 8.1k mark there was a bonus sprint section for World Cup points. Alex had stayed in the pack at the first bonus section, but came through in 4th place this time, to pick up 8 points. Holund, his teammate Simen Krueger and Cologna were in the top 3 positions.

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    28.01.2018, Seefeld, Austria (AUT): Alex Harvey (CAN) - FIS world cup cross-country, mass men, Seefeld (AUT). www.nordicfocus.com. © Thibaut/NordicFocus.

    The pace eased a bit around the 11k mark with Alex still near the front and showing some good glide on the downhills. Graeme had now moved up to only 5 seconds back from the leaders, in 29th. It was shortly after that point that Austrian Max Hauke decided to get some moments of fame on National TV, and took the lead for a bit.

    The final major climb saw the podium group determined. Dario Cologna put on a devastating surge of speed, making a gap at the front, with Alex and Sundby trying to respond.

    Cologna skied away with ease for the win, while Alex finished a couple of seconds later in 2nd, a bit ahead of Sundby.



    It was also a good day for Devon Kershaw who moved from 44th to 30th,  just ahead of Graeme Killick in 31st. It is nice to see Graeme on the edge of World Cup points with Pyeongchang approaching. Lenny Valjas was 58th, Knute Johnsgaard 82nd, Bob Thompson 87th and Julien Locke 92nd.
    Results

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    28.01.2018, Seefeld, Austria (AUT): Alex Harvey (CAN) - FIS world cup cross-country, mass men, Seefeld (AUT). www.nordicfocus.com. © Thibaut/NordicFocus.

    Alex remains 4th on the Overall World Cup standings but it is a close competition for 2nd through 4th.

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    The women skied a 10k mass start today and U.S. skier Jess Diggins led a quartet of Norwegians across the line. Heidi Weng was 2nd and Ragnhild Haga 3rd.

    The Canadians had to start quite far back in the field, but made good progress by the finish, not the easiest feat on a crowded course. Emily Nishikawa was the first Canadian and moved up from 49th to 35th, 12 seconds off World Cup points.  Cendrine Browne went from 52 to 37th, finishing in a photofinish with Emily .1 seconds back. Dahria Beatty moved from 59 to 45th.
    Results

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    27.01.2018, Seefeld, Austria (AUT): Emily Nishikawa (CAN) - FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Seefeld (AUT). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

    All in all it was a good day for Canada, which included an 11th place finish for Graham Ritchie in the World Junior Championship sprint (details in another Haywood Report). Generally, many of the team seems to be approaching their top performance levels, in the last two weeks before the Olympics.

    The Olympic team will be named on Monday, and with many of the members in Seefeld, that is where a short pre-Olympic training camp will be held. The team is then headed to Korea on the 2nd of February, to acclimatize and get over jetlag.

    Stay tuned tomorrow for the U23 Worlds sprint action at 06:30 EST available on a Live Stream from Goms, Switzerland.

    Follow the race circuits and National Ski Teams on the CCC website, TwitterFacebookInstagram. Be part of Pyeongchang 2018 & Beijing 2022. Invest in youth. Share the podium. Donate to Project Podium / Faites partie de l’Équipe Pyeongchang 2018 & Beijing 2022! Investissez dans la jeunesse, Canada. Partageons le podium. Donnez à Projet Podium


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