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Canada’s Harvey and Valjas Win Stunning Team Sprint GOLD at Toblach World Cup – USA 6th

by skitrax.com
Alex Harvey (CAN) at the finish [P] Nordic Focus
January 15, 2017 (Toblach, ITA) – Canada’s Alex Harvey and Lenny Valjas won gold in their debut run in the men’s World Cup Team Sprint in Toblach, Italy on Sunday. The duo held their own and on the final leg Harvey attacked on the final climb and took the lead at the top of the final downhill into the stadium and never looked back to secure the title for the Canadians.

Air guitar [P] Nordic Focus

The duo rocked the traditional Canadian air guitar show with their skinny skis in the finish area after clocking a winning time of 16:02.11. It was the first time Canada has won a team sprint event since Harvey and Devon Kershaw won the gold medal in the classic team sprint at the 2011 World Championships in Norway.

“This feels absolutely great. Team wins are always special. To share this with Lenny and all of the wax staff is awesome,” said Harvey, who has regularly been in the top-10 this year, and captured the bronze-medal position on the podium two weeks ago in the fourth stage of the seven-race Tour de Ski.

Len Valjas (CAN) and Sindre Bjoernestad Skar (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

Sweden’s Karl-Johan Westberg and Oskar Svensson were second at 16:02.64, while Italy’s Federico Pellegrino and Dietmar Noeckler won the bronze with a time of 16:02.76.

“I needed this. It has been a while and to do it in a team event is even better. I was not expecting this at all today, but it was the ultimate goal,” said Valjas celebrating his first World Cup victory. “There were lots of little attacks to try and blow the field up so I just wanted to cover those attacks, but not blow my energy. We both have great speed and endurance to go with it, which is an advantage in this event. By the last lap I just kept grinding and the pure sprinters kept dying one-by-one.”

Alex Harvey (CAN) and Simeon Hamilton (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Team USA’s Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton combined for a strong sixth place finish. Hamilton turned in some impressive legs, winning his first of three rounds and anchoring with the second-fastest time of the final leg.

“Today was a solid day for us. I felt great in the semi-final heats and was able to post some of the fastest lap times and keep us comfortably near the front,” said Newell. “In the finals we ran into a little trouble right before the first exchange a got spun like a top and fell hard on my butt. I tried to get up pretty quickly and sprint back up to tag Simi, but that wasn’t ideal. We both had to work hard to pass people back and the rest of the race my right glute was killing me but we both fought hard to stay in the hunt.”

Sporting 70s old school style moustaches, the 28-year-old Canadian duo advanced to the finals after finishing fourth in the semifinals of the 6×1.3 kilometre relay.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

Led by Valjas, the Canadians stayed out of trouble near the middle of the pack where they put their focus on the exchanges on a tight and winding course in Toblach. Grinding out each leg, the 6’ 7” Valjas began to make the initial move for the Canucks on the third leg, which forced the pack to stretch out.

“There is always lots of crashes in the team sprint, and on this course, it is so hard to pass so it was important to stay near front half of the group. We had a strategy to make our moves in the exchange area,” added Harvey now fourth overall in the WCup standings. “We positioned ourselves well on the outside away from the group. We had to ski longer distances, but could gain speed. We made up positions in every exchange which was the difference today.”

Alex Harvey (CAN) at the finish [P] Nordic Focus

With all of the top nations elbowing for position on the tight corners, Harvey handed off to Valjas in fifth spot for his final trek around the Toblach Nordic Arena where he held his own to set up Harvey up for the charge to the finish line.

“I know Alex is feeling well, and I just wanted to go out there and work hard to set him up to do his thing on the final lap and he delivered,” said Valjas enjoying his sixth career podium.. “I’ve been kind of waiting for this breakthrough. It has been a long road, but I am feeling really strong. This is just perfect and gives me huge confidence heading into World Championships.”

Oh Canada [P] Nordic Focus

The Americans are also feeling bullish. “Simi and I really enjoy racing these team sprints and have a lot of fun working on tactics and strategies. If we tighten up few of our tags and stay on our feet we can definitely improve on this 6th place finish,” added Newell.

“I’m just feeling really good right now. I wasn’t going to race yesterday and decided I might as well do it and see what happens. It gave me a lot of confidence for today to deliver a great result and we did that. The skis have been amazing all year. The body is great and everything is going really well right now,” Harvey concluded.

Results here.





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