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Cross Country Canada – OSLO, Nor.—Alex Harvey put everything he had into a career-best fifth place finish at the famed 50-kilometre Holmenkollen World Cup in Oslo, Norway on Saturday.

Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., was in a five-man fight for the medals down the finishing stretch after classic-skiing six laps down Norway’s hallowed Nordic trails that winds its way through forests, up hills and into the City of Oslo.

In the end, he didn’t have the extra kick needed to land a spot on the podium and was happy with his best distance race of the season, finishing behind four Russian skiers in fifth place with a time of 2:23:54.4 on wet, snowy day in Norway.

“I was close to the podium today, but the Russians were too strong for me,” said Harvey. “I had really good skis, but it was clear the Russians had the best skis than anyone in the field. They were just really strong and fast today.”

The three-time Olympian was in a pack of seven that pulled away from the field with nearly three kilometres to go. The group strung apart in a relentless double-pole sprint to the finish.

“The Russians really started to push the pace and exploded the field a bit. It was like a three kilometre sprint. I was in good position but by the time we were coming into the stadium we were all in a line and I was already a couple of seconds back.”

Harvey finished four seconds back of the Russian sweep of the podium which consisted of Alexander Bolshunov in the gold-medal spot at 2:23:49.8. Maxim Vylegzhanin in second at 2:23:50.8 and Andrey Larkov in the bronze medal position with a time of 2:23:54.4.

Canada’s Jack Carlyle was 42nd at 2:42:40.7.

“It is so crazy racing here. People have bonfires along the trails and are camping out overnight. It is big and a very loud atmosphere which helps give you extra energy for a 50k,” said Harvey. “We are always treated like kings when we show up here, but if you do well, they give you so much respect.”

Oslo has special memories for Harvey who is winding down his illustrious career with just two more World Cup stops to go, ending with the World Cup finals at home in Quebec City. The 30-year-old and Devon Kershaw captured the world’s attention in 2011 when they won World Championship gold in the team sprint at the shrine of Nordic skiing.

Harvey has always been in podium contention at the most prestigious stop on the World Cup. On Saturday he matched his career-best in the Nordic marathon at Oslo. He was also fifth in 2011, and sixth two years ago.

“When I started on the National Team (a fifth-place finish) was huge for us. We have come so far and that is because of the teamwork we had that turned our program around. That started before I was even on the team,” said Harvey. “Those years with Devon (Kershaw), Lenny (Valjas), and Ivan (Babikov) ,we set the bar so high, and that was special to be a part of. It is very special to have gone from an underdog to a staple on the World Cup. We had such a great team, and together we were able to make our mark on the World Cup.”

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Chris Dornan                                                       

Media and Public Relations

Cross Country Ski de fond Canada

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