For the second time in six days, Alex Harvey put himself on top of a World Cup podium, this time winning the 15km free in Ulricehamn, Sweden in 32 minutes 46.2 seconds.
He is the first Canadian cross-country skier to ever win gold medals on back-to-back weekends on the elite international circuit. It is his third podium performance of the season.
“We’ve had a lot of great champions in Canada. It is nice to be able to own a statistic like that, but I do it for the result and to be the best I can be in each race,” Harvey told Cross Country Canada. “If that means that I win back-to-back then it is a bonus.”
Harvey pushed himself to the finish line to beat the time clocked by Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby (32:52.2) by six seconds to earn his first career World Cup win in an interval start distance race, ticking that off his bucket list. Home favourite Marcus Hellner (33:00.5) finished third.
Traditionally a slower starter, Harvey was actually one of the early leaders on Saturday when he took advantage of his equipment and a burst of speed.
“The plan was to start fast and be in the hunt. Sometimes when I start fast I can’t handle the pace, but I was in the top five for the first three kilometres. When I got the splits that I was leading midway, I knew I could push it to the end,” said Harvey. “There was one really long steep hill which is not normally my strength, but the rest of the course was a lot of fun. You had to be proactive and always working and pushing the entire way.”
“Individual starts have been harder for me in the past. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and confidence to know that I can be in the hunt in all race disciplines,” said Harvey, who remains in fourth place in the overall World Cup standings but is closing the gap on third. “I really believe I can be on the podium every time I race and that’s important. When you don’t throw all your eggs in one basket in one discipline, like a sprint race, it takes the pressure away of having to perform on one single day.”
“I’m fortunate to have been born with that ability to race in sprints or distances and in classic and skate-skiing, but I’m also working really hard for it as well and that feels great to see it pay off.”
It was just last Sunday in Toblach, Italy that Harvey shared the spotlight with Lenny Valjas in the team sprint.
This is Harvey’s sixth career individual World Cup victory and the 20th time he’s stood on the podium solo. Sweden has been good to him over the years. It’s where he got his first win back in March 2012 and his last individual win in March 2014.