• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Haywood RACE Report: Alex Harvey 4th in Oberstdorf, 3rd overall in Tour de Ski

      January 4, 2017


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      Winter stopped by Oberstdorf yesterday and deposited close to 10 cm. of snow on the trails in preparation for the third day of Tour de Ski racing. Temperatures were wintry also, with the minus side of the Celsius thermometer getting some use around -5 degrees. At least snow-wise it was a nice change from the day before and from last year when the temperatures were in the teens and it was raining.

      The Canadian team was in good spirits heading into Day 3 with 4 in the top 33 of the standings.  Alex Harvey was placed 3rd overall despite having some "tired legs" and keen to get to the lower altitude of Oberstdorf. Lenny Valjas was 24th, Devon Kershaw (30) and Graeme Killick (33) had some made some big advances in the classic mass-start event.

      For today's race Alex Harvey was looking to stay in the top group, and gain some bonus seconds through the race. Devon and Graeme would look to continue moving towards the top of the standings and Lenny, a bit more of a sprint specialist, would plan to consolidate his position and make further progress.

      The women were first to race in Oberstdorf and it was a great day for the United States. Sweden's Stina Nilsson, normally a sprint star, won her first distance race by a few fractions of a second over Jessie Diggins. Norway's Heidi Weng was a bit farther back and Sadie Bjornsen in 5th. The U.S. had 4 skiers in the top 30. Results

      Off the start it was Ustiugov and Sundby setting the pace, with Alex close to the front.

      In the first few kilometres there was a long fast downhill with a sharp left hand turn. It was here that a somewhat significant incident happened in favour of Alex. Russian skier Andrey Larkov, who was 4th overall just behind Alex, was involved in a significant crash that saw his binding come off his ski.

      Another skier to benefit from the crash was Devon Kershaw, who did some heads up downhill slalom to avoid the crash and pick up some places in the overall standings. The Canadians seemed to have very fast classic skis and Devon was making early, quick progress towards the front of the pack.

      03.01.2017, Oberstdorf, Germany (GER): Sergey Ustiugov (RUS), Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR), Alex Harvey (CAN), Thomas Bing (GER), Dario Cologna (SUI), Sjur Roethe (NOR), Finn Haagen Krogh (NOR), (l-r) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, skiathlon men, Oberstdorf (GER). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

      As the classic leg progressed various Niklas Dyrhaug and Finn Haagen Krogh of Norway made some moves at the front.  Dyrhaug was looking for a top performance as reportedly his spot on the Norwegian Worlds team was in jeopardy, and Krogh one of the pre Tour favourites had struggled in the first 2 events.

      Just past the 5k mark Alex came through the first bonus second station in 1st place to gain 15 seconds towards his overall ranking.

      03.01.2017, Oberstdorf, Germany (GER): Simen Hegstad Krueger (NOR), Alex Harvey (CAN), Finn Haagen Krogh (NOR), (l-r) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, skiathlon men, Oberstdorf (GER). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus

      By the 6k mark Devon Kershaw had broke through to the front, showing a performance level that he hasn't been able to reach often in the last couple of years. He decided to get some air time on international TV and took the lead for a while around the 8k mark, before the pack reeled him in.

      At the 10k mark it was Devon in 2nd and Alex close behind in 9th as they made the ski change.

      Out of the stadium Sundby put on a bit of a surge, with Finland's Matti Heikkinen close behind. This rest of the leaders followed fairly closely

      03.01.2017, Oberstdorf, Germany (GER): Devon Kershaw (CAN) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, skiathlon men, Oberstdorf (GER). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

      Around the 12k mark in the stadium, there was another interesting incident.  Sundby was leading and took 2nd place Heikkinen off the course, for a little stadium tour. This was detrimental to Sundby, who as a result missed the opportunity to gain valuable bonus seconds just a bit up the course. Sundby had dropped back to 18th.

      Alex came through the bonus section in 3rd to gain 10 more bonus seconds.

      The bonus seconds station also some controversy as Dyrhaug was originally judged to have impeded Jens Burman of Sweden and had his bonus seconds taken away. At the end of the race, the jury decided to give the seconds back after interviewing each athlete.

      Around the 14k mark, 3 time Tour winner Dario Cologna made an appearance at the front and took the lead, just as Sundby was making his way back to the top group. Farther down the track, Krogh of Norway dropped out of the race.

      03.01.2017, Oberstdorf, Germany (GER): Devon Kershaw (CAN) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, skiathlon men, Oberstdorf (GER). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. 

      Cologna took the lead for a while before the pack managed to chase him down.  Both Alex and Devon were comfortably in the top 10 with a lot of strong contenders pushing the pace at the front, such as the French duo of Jean Marc Gaillard and Maurice Manificat.

      The race started to break open with 500 metres left after Manificat and then Sundby made a break. Alex and Cologna managed to keep close along with Sergey Ustiugov.

      03.01.2017, Oberstdorf, Germany (GER): Alex Harvey (CAN) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, skiathlon men, Oberstdorf (GER). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

      The finishing sprint saw a tremendous effort by Ustiugov to overcome Sundby for the win, with Cologna 3rd and Alex a bit over a second farther back.

      Devon came through 5 seconds later in 10th.  Lenny was 37th and Graeme 50th. Results It was Devon's first top 10 result in the last 2 years.

      All in all it was a good day for Canada with two in the top 10. Alex will start tomorrow's 15k pursuit with a 12 second lead over an in-form Dario Cologna. It will be an interesting race, to see if any of the top 4 chasers can make progress against each other. If Cologna catches Alex, they may be able to work together to hunt down the leaders.

      “It was my best result of the season so I’m really happy,” said Harvey, who has been edging closer to his first podium of the year while consistently placing in the top-10 over the last month.
      “Things played out exactly according to plan. I had really good skis again and the body felt good. 

      With today's result Alex remains in 3rd, losing 10 seconds to Ustiugov but retaining the 40 second gap to Sundby. Devon moves to 20th overall. Tour standings

      Alex moves up to 6th on the overall World Cup standings.

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