Bronze medal at cross-country World Cup shows Canadians can win at Olympics

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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WHISTLER, B.C. Alex Harvey and George Grey won a bronze medal in Sundays cross-country World Cup race, showing Canadian athletes have a chance at reaching the podium when the 2010 Winter Games come to Whistler Olympic Park.

Harvey, from St-Ferreol, Que., caught Russias Alexei Petukhov at the finish to earn Canadas first mens World Cup medal in team sprint. A flag-waving crowd of around 3,000 cheered as Harvey and Grey celebrated on the same course that will host the Olympics next February.

It means we can do it, said Harvey, 20, who won his first medal in just his fourth World Cup. It means Canada mens relay team can podium at the World Cup and at the Olympics.

Harveys father Pierre, who won three cross-country World Cup races during his career, watched the 1.6-kilometre race as one of the announcers in the stadium.

I knew he was good but I didnt know he was that good, said Pierre.

Having his father on hand was special for Alex Harvey.

It was pretty emotional for him to see his little kid doing what he did a couple of years ago, he said. To have him here . . . its nice to share the moment.

Winning a medal also was special for Grey, 29, of Rossland, B.C., a nine-year team veteran.

I have been looking for something like this for a long time, he said. This means we can podium at the 2010 Games. We are a serious threat.

Just over half a second separated the top three.

The Swedish team of Emil Joensson and Robin Bryntesson won the race in 19 minutes 44.10 seconds. It was Joenssons second gold of the weekend after winning Fridays sprint.

Italian brothers Fabio and Renato Pasini were second in 19:44.40 while Grey and Harvey were third in 19:44.70.

Italys Magda Genuin and Arianna Follis won the womens 1.3-kilometre race in 17:20.10. Germanys Nicole Fessel and Stefanie Boehler were second in 17:30.00 while Swedens Lina Andersson and Anna Olsson were third in 17:31.20.

The Canadian women did not qualify for the final.

The team sprint features teams of two athletes. Each skis around the course three times, tagging off to their partner after each lap.

Canadas Sara Renner and the now-retired Beckie Scott won a silver medal in the womens team sprint at the Turin Olympics. That race involved classic skiing. Sundays race was skate skiing.

Harvey was fifth coming into the stadium on the final lap. A fall by Italys Pietro Piller Cottrer, who on Saturday criticized the Whistler course as being too easy, allowed Harvey to move into fourth. That set up the sprint to the finish against the Russian.

I knew my legs were good and the skis seemed to be fast the whole day, said Harvey. I knew there was a chance for us to be on the podium.

Harvey, a two-time world junior medallist, is one of the young, rising talents on the Canadian team. He underwent an operation in the spring to repair an artery and improve blood flow to his left leg.

This is just the start for him, said Grey. Alex is one of the most talented, and more importantly, most level-headed young guys Ive ever trained with. Hes smart out there.

The weekend competition was the first Olympic test event held at the $119.7-million Whistler Olympic Park, located about 20 kilometres southwest of Whistler. The facility will also host ski jumping and biathlon during the Olympics.

Organizations: Turin Olympics

Geographic location: WHISTLER, Whistler Olympic Park, Canada Rossland

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