Everything was set up perfectly for a heroic hometown performance before a crowd of thousands, but in the end Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw were not the masters of their own fate in the World Cup Sprint Event in Quebec City.
On a sprint course that was filled with bumps, berms and even a small jump, Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey got off to a strong start in the team sprint event, which involved making three laps of a 1.6km course with athletes handing off after every lap.
Harvey grew up outside the city and the crowds were chanting his name as he worked his way up to fourth place on the final lap and was positioning himself for a pass that would have put him on the podium. However, Emil Joensson of Sweden, one of the top skiers in the world, caught an edge in the snow and crashed, knocking Harvey off course into the fencing. Harvey rallied and caught the lead group again, but he lost too much time in the crash to have a shot at the podium.
"I knew right there it was done," he said. "When your hand touches the snow in sprint racing the gap is just too big to make up. That is sprint racing. The Swedes are two of the best out here and you never would expect (Joensson) to go down, but there is nothing you can do. You need to find your luck in sprinting."
For Kershaw, it was just bad luck.
"There are a lot of big guys out here racing with not much space, and there is a lot of knocking around that goes on, so crashes happen," he said.
"Everyone out here wants to win, but we really wanted to win today. It is too bad, but you just can't go down in sprinting."
The other Canadian team featured Len Valjas and Canmore's Jesse Cockney, with Valjas still recovering from a hand injury. They made the cut to reach the finals, but placed 10th out of 10 teams in the final race.
A pair of racers from Kazakhstan, an up-and-coming Nordic nation, placed first with Denis Volotka and Kilolay Chebotko earning the gold medals. The Russia I team — Nikia Kriukov and Alexey Petukhov — were second by a tenth of a second, while Norway I — Anders Bloeersen and Eirik Brandsdal — edged out the Norway II team for the third spot on the podium.
The top five teams were separated by just 1.9 seconds.
In the women's race, the Canadian team of Chandra Crawford and Daria Gaiazova did not advance past the semifinals. The win went to the American team of Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall — who's emerging as the top female racer this season. Hanna Kob and Denis Hermann of Germany were second, while Celine Brun-Lie and Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway were third.
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