Alex Harvey was the lone bright spot on a bitter-sweet day for Canadian cross-country skiing, finishing 21st in front of a boisterous hometown crowd at the first-ever World Cup in Quebec City.
Harvey was the lone Canadian to qualify for the finals of the head-to-head heats with the quickest 30 athletes on the tricky 1.5-kilometre skate-ski track.
Harvey, who grew up in nearby St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, tried to feed off the energy of the nearly 10,000 fans lining the gnarly little 800-metre loop.
But the 24-year-old crossed the line fifth in his heat. Only the top two in each heat advance to the next round.
“The city sprints are always tough because they are fast and I just don’t have the speed,” said Harvey, who added that he is more of a distance racer. “It was awesome racing at home. I was really happy to make it into the heats.”
Sweden’s Emil Joensson remained unbeaten in individual racing in Canada dating back to 2008 after taking Saturday’s sprint title. In addition to winning the 2010 Olympic sprint race, Joensson has also won World Cups in Whistler, B.C., and Canmore, Alta., along with Canadian Championships.
The powerful Swede was joined on the podium by countryman Teodor Peterson in second place and Russia’s Alexey Petukhov, who took bronze.
Jesse Cockney of Canmore, Alta., and Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., were the next best Canadians placing 32nd and 34th in qualifying.
No Canadians qualified for the women’s heats after Olympic champion Chandra Crawford, also of Canmore, narrowly missed out after finishing 32nd. Perianne Jones of Almonte, Ont., was the only other Canadian in the top-40, placing 38th.
Kikkan Randall of the United States completed a golden sweep in Quebec after winning the individual women’s skate-sprint race. Randall joined forces with Jessica Diggins on Friday to win the team sprint. Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla sprinted to the silver, while Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter rounded out the podium in third.
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