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Canadians Harvey, Valjas crack top 20 at cross-country skiing World Cup

Harvey, Valjas crack top 20 at World Cup

TOBLACH, Italy — Canadians Alex Harvey and Len Valjas both cracked the top 20 in a 1.3-kilometre cross-country skiing World Cup race on Saturday.

Harvey, of Saint Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., finished 17th while Toronto's Valjas was 20th in the rare 1.3-kilometre skate-sprint race.

"It was pretty good today. I think that was my best qualifier in two years so I was a bit surprised," said Harvey, who was only going to start the team sprint on Sunday with Valjas. "It was such an easy trip to come down to Toblach. I just felt if I'm doing race prep I might as well put a bib on and see what happens. I felt a lot of speed today and was quite happy."

Qualifying in eighth for the head-to-head heats with the top-30 athletes, Harvey tried to make his move on his six-man quarter-final heat on the final uphill, but was boxed out of advancing to the semifinals after crossing the finish line fourth. Only the top two in each heat and the next two fastest times overall advance.

Valjas secured his spot in the heats after qualifying 23rd. Skiing at the back, Valjas remained in contact with the pack, but wasn't able to kick it into the final gear to grab a spot in the semis after finishing fourth in his heat as well.

Norway's Sindre Bjoernestad Skar won the men's sprint. American Simeon Hamilton finished second in the photo finish, while Norway's Joannes Hoesflot Klaebo locked up the bronze medal.

The result bumped Harvey one spot up the overall World Cup standings into fourth.

The Canadian Press