Canada’s Alex Harvey wins cross-country ski World Cup 15-kilometre race

Canada's Harvey wins cross-country ski World Cup

ULRICEHAMN, Sweden — Canadian Alex Harvey won a 15-kilometre freestyle race at the cross-country ski World Cup on Saturday.

Harvey’s time of 32 minutes 46.2 seconds made him the first North American man to win a World Cup race since he last topped the podium almost three years ago.

“It’s amazing. Individual start, it’s a real man’s race. You’re there on your own,” said Harvey, who is from Saint Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que. “I’m really happy to be able to check that off.”

Harvey is the first Canadian cross-country skier to earn back-to-back gold medal victories in consecutive weekends on the World Cup.  He also won gold last week with Toronto’s Len Valjas in the team sprint relay in Toblach, Italy.

“We’ve had a lot 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 each race,” said Harvey. “If that means that I win back-to-back then that is a bonus.”

Beckie Scott also won in back-to-back races during her memorable 2005-06 run, but not on consecutive weekends.

“It does feel great to win again today,” said Harvey, who won his first individual race since the World Cup Finals in 2014. “Everything was clicking today. This is a new place for us, but the course was really good and suited my abilities. I was in it from the beginning and felt good the whole way today.”

Standings leader and reigning World Cup champion Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway was six seconds off Harvey. Sweden’s Markus Hellner finished 14.3 seconds off the pace as he narrowly beat Switzerland’s Dario Cologna to the final podium spot.

Sundby stretched his lead in the standings to 257 points over Russia’s Sergei Ustyugov, with Finland’s Matti Heikkinen 220 points back of Ustyugov and Harvey in fourth.

Earlier, Norwegian veteran Marit Bjoergen won a women’s 10-kilometre freestyle race in 23:46.3 to underline her dominance of the event. She has now won seven of the last 15 10K freestyle races in the World Cup.

It was the first World Cup race ever held in Ulricehamn, meaning the 36-year-old Bjoergen has now won in a record 37 different host cities over the course of her career.

Finland’s Krista Parmakoski was second, 10.7 seconds off Bjoergen’s time, while Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla took third, 24.9 seconds off the lead.

Norway’s Heidi Weng, who was sixth in Saturday’s race, leads the overall standings by 279 points over Parmakoski.

Cendrine Browne, of Saint-Jerome, Que.,was the lone Canadian in the women’s 10-kilometre skate-ski race, finishing 35th at 25:38.3.

The Associated Press