March 05, 2017 (Lahti, Finland) – Alex Harvey was crowned the king of cross-country skiing after winning the prestigious men’s 50-kilometre skate cross-country skiing event to close out the 2017 World Championships in Lahti, Finland on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Harvey exercised his race tactics to perfection while clocking a winning time of one hour, 46 minutes, 28.9 seconds in the legendary Nordic marathon.
“It was a perfect day for me. The conditions were so fast and I knew that would play into my favour. I was fighting to stay near the front and out of trouble most of the way. I was just hoping to put myself in second position at the final Lahti corner. I had amazing skis today so I knew that if I hit that corner in second place I had a good chance,” said Harvey, who also has two World Cup victories to go along with two bronze medals this year.
“My skis were really fast and I was able to slingshot perfectly around that corner and then it was mine to lose,” he continued.
Pegging the 50 kilometre on the calendar as his race to win heading into the week, Harvey of Saint Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., delivered.
In complete control and relaxed from start-to-finish, the two-time Olympian skied comfortably with the lead pack. Balancing his time between leading the pace and tucking in behind a handful of the world’s best skiers in the lead group, Harvey was content to bide his time at the front until the final two kilometres where he, Ustigov and Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby pushed the pace. With the lead group jostling for position, Harvey tucked into the number two spot behind Sundby in the final descent into Lahti Stadium. As he exited the downhill he took the inside line left open by Sundby and sling-shotted into the lead and never looked back as he sprinted down the finishing stretch to the top step of the podium.
It was the second World Championship gold medal for Harvey, and his first individual at the premiere international race on the calendar in a non-Olympic year. He and Devon Kershaw first rocked the Nordic world in 2011 when they won the World Championship team sprint at the birthplace of the sport in Oslo, Norway.
Harvey now has an unprecedented five World Championship medals in four different race distances in both classic- and skate-skiing techniques. He also has 21 World Cup podium finishes in his storied career. His first individual World Cup medal also came in the 50-kilometre classic-ski race when he won the bronze in Trondheim, Norway in 2009 – just weeks after his World Cup breakthrough with teammate George Grey when they won the bronze in the team sprint in Whistler, B.C.
“This is the biggest race in cross-country skiing,” said Harvey. “It was so tough and fast out there. You need to have fast skis, great tactics, a bit of luck and some magic. Today I had the magic.”
The top American was Durango, Colorado’s Tad Elliott in 27th at 1:49:45.7 followed by Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., in 38th at 1:52:14.4; Graeme Killick of Fort McMurray, Alta., was 43rd (1:53:32.9); Noah Hoffman from Aspen, Colorado, was 50th (1:55:22.0); Knute Johnsgaard, of Whitehorse, placed 55th (1:58:32.2); and Kyle Bratrud from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, did not finish.
The Canadian squad now travels to Oslo, Norway for the final two World Cup races before coming home for the World Cup Finals in Quebec City, March 17-19.