50km Vic­to­ries

A Harvey Tra­di­tion

SkiTrax - - Out In Front - By Jack Sas­seville

As I fol­lowed the World Cham­pi­onship men's 50km freestyle race in Lahti, Fin­land on the live In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion web­site, the last check­point be­fore the fin­ish was at 48.2km, and it showed Canada's Alex Harvey near the front, as he had been all day.

With only 1.8km to go, I be­gan think­ing about an­other 50km race back in 1988 that I had the priv­i­lege to watch in person in Oslo, Nor­way.

On that day, Alex's fa­ther, Pierre, won the 100th edition of what is likely the most pres­ti­gious sin­gle-day race in the world – the Hol­menkollen 50km Clas­sic.

In those days, the 50km was an in­ter­val-start race over a 25km course. The skiers started one by one ev­ery 30 sec­onds. Pierre had a very fast start, and by the end of the first lap, he was the leader by 30 sec­onds over sec­ond-placed Ve­gard Ul­vang (NOR), who had started 30 sec­onds ahead of him. They were now ski­ing to­gether, and it seemed that as long as Harvey stayed with Ul­vang, he would win the race.

How­ever, at the back of the field, Ital­ian skier Sil­vano Barco was mak­ing his move, and when he reached my tim­ing sta­tion at the 13km mark, he was within 30 sec­onds of Pierre and was gain­ing fast.

Fran­ti­cally I called our other coaches on my walkie-talkie, but only reached our head waxer, John Plum­mer, who rushed out of the wax room to let Pierre know. Head coach Marty Hall in the sta­dium got wind of things via a PA an­nounce­ment and sent a mes­sage to se­nior-team coach Lau­rent Roux, who in­formed Pierre. With three kilo­me­tres to go, Pierre put in a fi­nal push and ended up win­ning by 13 sec­onds. It was the great­est vic­tory of his ca­reer and one of my best mem­o­ries as a coach with the Na­tional Team.

Now, as the sec­onds ticked by, I waited for the moment that I could re­fresh my phone and see the fi­nal re­sults from the cur­rent 50km in Lahti. When they flashed on the screen show­ing that Alex had won, I screamed “YESSSS!” and started run­ning around the room.

Alex said that this was the great­est race of his life. He said that he had been feel­ing good all week, but was miss­ing the magic. For the 50km F fi­nale, he had the magic, and will for­ever be a world cham­pion in an In­di­vid­ual event.

He and his fa­ther are the two great­est male skiers in the his­tory of cross-coun­try ski­ing in Canada. What a tra­di­tion.

Canada's Pierre Harvey wins the 100th Hol­menkollen 50km Clas­sic in 1988 – the first nonEuro­pean to claim this pres­ti­gious ti­tle.

Rare Hol­menkollen Di­plom pre­sented to Pierre Harvey by the King of Nor­way fol­low­ing his vic­tory.

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