March 08, 2017 – This past Sunday, as I was getting ready to go for a ski I sat with my phone continually updating the Live FIS site as I followed the World Championship Men’s 50km F race from Lahti, Finland. The last checkpoint before the finish was at 48.2 km and it showed Alex Harvey near the lead, as he had been all day.
On that day Alex’s father, Pierre won the 100th edition of what is likely the most prestigious single day race in the world – the Holmenkollen 50km Classic.
In those days the 50km was an interval start race over a 25km course. The skiers started one by one every 30 seconds. Pierre got out to a very fast start and by the end of the 1st lap of 25km he was the leader by 30 seconds over the 2nd place skier Vegard Ulvang (Nor), who had started 30 seconds in front of him. They were now skiing together and we all believed that as long as Pierre stayed with Vegard that he would win the race.
However, at the back of the field an Italian skier, Silvano Barco, had started to make his move forward and by the time Barco reached my timing station at the 13km mark on the course he had closed to within 30 seconds of Pierre and was gaining fast.
I frantically called to our other coaches on my walkie-talkie to let them know of the situation but the only one who could hear me was our head waxer, John Plummer, who was in the wax room and rushed out to let Pierre know. Head coach, Marty Hall who was in the stadium, got wind of Barco via a PA announcement and sent a message to Senior Team Coach Laurent Roux who was able to inform Harvey. With three km to go Pierre put in a final push to the finish and ended up winning by 13 seconds. It was the greatest win of his career and one of my best memories as a coach with the National Team.here.
Sitting in the locker room on Sunday the seconds ticked by slowly as I waited for the moment that I could refresh my screen and see the final results. When they flashed on the screen showing that Alex had won I screamed YESSSS! and started running around the room.
The famous Holmenkollen 50km Classic in Oslo, Norway, is coming up this weekend on March 11 and we look forward to adding another chapter to the Harvey Tradition – bonne chance Alex.