Olympic cross-country skier Alex Harvey snatched a silver medal at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden on Thursday.
Harvey, 27, was involved in a tight finish against Norwegian legend Petter Northug. The difference between gold and silver was a mere 0.05 seconds. Another Norwegian, Ola Vigen Hattestad finished third. The medal was Harvey’s second individual and third overall at the world championships.
“I just love racing in Falun. The course is so hard and it requires sustained work, and I just enjoy racing here. I’m really excited. It was a great day for me and our entire team,” Harvey said in a Cross Country Canada release.
The sprint in Falun is a 1.4 km lap at a course packed with Scandinavian ski enthusiasts. The fans were treated to a memorable final that saw Northug’s time of 3:02.35 edge Harvey’s 3:02.40, after the Canadian made a late charge at the leader. Hattestad’s bronze medal time was 3:02.70. Prior to that, there was a qualifier, quarterfinals and semifinals in which Harvey’s confidence grew.
“That qualifier was a great start for me,” Harvey, who had the fifth fastest qualifying time, said of the start. “In the quarterfinal, I knew I was in it and I just said ‘it is on now for me.’” Harvey placed comfortably second in his quarterfinal heat where the top two went through to the semifinals.
In the semis Northug, Harvey and Hattestad were in the same race. Top two qualified from each of the two semifinal heats and both Northug and Harvey took the “lucky loser” spots for the fastest times outside the guaranteed final places.
Russia’s Nikita Kriukov and Federico Pellegrino of Italy went trhough from the first semifinal, while Hattestad and Northug’s brother Tomas held down the top qualification spots in the faster heat, from which Harvey advanced in fourth place.
“I knew in the semis the Norwegians would go full blast. They had to with four guys in it,” Harvey said looking back on the day. “I just bit my teeth on the climbs and tried to be strong for the finish.”
An early attack from Pellegrino saw the Italian set the pace, while Harvey worked his way up to third. Northug soon reeled in Pellegrino before the skiers made a mad dash to the finish line in the final stretch, which is where Harvey too passed the Italian and nearly caught his top Norwegian rival.
“I was there with him in the end, and just couldn’t get around him,” Harvey said of his duel with Northug in the end. “I thought I was going to get him. I wouldn’t replay things to try it again. I am happy with the silver today and really looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Photos by Nordic Focus via Cross Country Canada.