Canada’s Alex Harvey just short of podium at cross-country World Cup

Canada's Alex Harvey sprints to the finish in the men's 15 km Pursuit Free Sunday, March 19, 2017 at the cross country World Cup in Quebec City. Harvey placed second. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

RUKA, Finland — Canada’s Alex Harvey didn’t win a medal but he finished fourth in the final race of the season-opening cross-country skiing World Cup on Sunday.

Starting in 12th, 83 seconds behind the leaders — based on results from the opening two days of racing in the Ruka Triple mini-tour — Harvey was on a mission to hunt down precious spots on the leaderboard, and ultimately secure a place on the podium, in the 15-kilometre skate-skiing pursuit race.

The 29 year old from St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., finished a stride short – just 0.6 seconds from his first podium of the Olympic season, clocking a time of 36 minutes 24.8 seconds.

"I started really hard and spent a lot of energy coming back to catch the field," said Harvey. "I am in good shape but not my best shape yet so I was cooked at the finish and just needed to cross the line."

Harvey took his turns pushing the pace, pulling the group around for portions of the final lap until one of his top rivals — Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby — made a break with 1.5-kilometres to go. Harvey, along with two Russian skiers responded, leaving it a fight among those four to determine the podium.

"I was happy I was able to go with him but that put me too much in the red for the finish," said Harvey. "If we had opened the gap a couple of seconds more I think we would have stayed away, but that speed burst put me over the line. I could see the guys coming back and my legs were cooked."

Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo won gold in 36:23.2. Sundby held on for the silver at 36:23.6, while Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov edged out Harvey at the line to claim the bronze medal with a time of 36:24.2.

Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., also skied into the points with the elite group of 30 for the second-straight day. The three-time Olympian stopped the clock at 38:11.0 for 29th spot.

Toronto’s Len Valjas placed 44th (39:10.7); Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., was 68th (41:02.7); Knute Johnsgaard, of Whitehorse, skied to 81st (43:06.8); and Julien Locke, of Nelson, B.C., finished 83rd (43:56.8).

Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, was the top Canadian in the women’s 10-kilometre skate-ski pursuit, finishing 69th at 31:56.1. Cendrine Browne, of St-Jerome, Que., fought her way into 72nd place at 32:10.8, while Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse) was lapped, putting her in 79th position.

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla skied away from the field to win the women’s race with a time of 25:50.1. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen claimed the silver medal with a time of 25:59.8, while her teammate Ragnhild Haga took her place on the final step of the podium with a time of 26:24.0.

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