March 11, 2017 (Oslo, Norway) – Canada’s Alex Harvey finished a strong 6th in the men’s 50km Classic at the legendary Holmenkollen stadium in Oslo as Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby became the first male skier to win back-to-back victories in the World Cup that every xc skier hopes to win during their career.
Taking the silver at at 9.9 behind was second-place finisher Iivo Niskanen of Finland who battled with Sundby for most of the race. Russia’s Alexander Bessmertnykh took third in a 3-way photo finish with Norwegian’s Sjur Roethe and Niklas Dyrhaug. Canada’s Harvey was in the mix but miss-timed his final lunge and ended up sixth.
“I had a really bad sprint today. The conditions were really warm and wet. I was cramping all over the place so it wasn’t a good finish. But I’m in good shape and have to be happy with the sixth today,” said Harvey post race.
Scott Patterson led the Americans with a superb 28th-place finish followed by Canada’s Devon Kershaw in 33rd. The USA’s David Norris placed 35th followed by Noah Hoffman in 38th, Benjamin Lustgarten in 46th and Canadian Russell Kennedy in 47th.
For Patterson, it was a big step forward with vital steppingstone results. “As a first time in the points in Europe I am quite satisfied,” he said. “However, I don’t think I could be a competitive skier if I wasn’t looking for more. (Coach) Matt Whitcomb gave me some splits that I was around 45 seconds from the group up to top 20.
“I really wanted to get up to that group. Besides a few frustrations with tactics and a small crash on the last lap, it was quite a good race. Being in the points at Holmenkollen with a sunny day and thousands of fans only made it better. I’m looking forward to building on this result for the Quebec World Cup Finals,” added Patterson.
“It was a tough pace right from the beginning today. When Iivo broke away and I was able to get back to him we worked well together and I actually convinced him to change skis with me on the 4th lap,” said Sundby. “He was going to change on 3rd lap but I told him I would lead and we could get away together. He’s 15 km World Champ in classic and it was a tough fight with him.”
Recognized as the world’s biggest ski festival, the event sees more than 50,000 people gather annually in the Holmenkollen National Ski Arena or camping out in the surrounding forest days in advance of the most prestigious race on the Nordic calendar that has been running for over 100 years.
“It’s so awesome here. There are so many people along the course who are cheering so loud you can’t even hear the coaches giving you the splits. You definitely feed off the adrenaline,” said Harvey, who finished fifth in the 50-kilometre event in Oslo at the 2011 World Championships when he and Kershaw also won gold in the team sprint.
The World Cup caravan now heads to Quebec City for the final three races of the season on home turf for Harvey who is looking to accomplish his goal of finishing in the top-three overall for the second time of his career after having arguably his most consistent season ever.
Currently sitting in third place, Harvey was also third in 2014. Devon Kershaw holds the honour of having the top finish ever by a Canadian male when he was second overall on the World Cup in 2012.