TOBLACH, Italy -- Alex Harvey was solid in a fifth-place result on Saturday in his final World Cup cross-country ski distance race prior to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
After spending a week doing high-altitude training in Italy, the 25-year-old from St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., bounced back into race form while challenging for the podium in the men's 15-kilometre individual start classic-ski race. Harvey clocked a time of 37 minutes 30.1 seconds.
"That was a solid race from Alex today. He started out conservative and then made up ground throughout the race," said Justin Wadsworth, head coach of the Canadian cross-country ski team. "This week is all about shaking out the cobwebs after being at altitude so it was a good day."
Harvey set a pace ahead of the eventual winner, Russia's Alexander Legkov, in the final lap. Legkov set the time to beat at 37:02.7. Switzerland's Dario Cologna was second at 37:05.6, while Sweden's Marcus Hellner rounded out the podium in third with a time of 37:20.3.
Four other Canadians hit the start line including two relative rookies to the World Cup, Graeme Killick and Jesse Cockney, along with Olympic veterans Devon Kershaw and Ivan Babikov.
Kershaw, from Sudbury, Ont., finished 39th with a time of 39:31.7, while Killick, from Fort McMurray, Alta., placed 40th (39:32.3). Cockney, from Canmore, Alta., was 51st (39:48.6), while Babikov, also from Canmore, finished 62nd (40:24.4) in the wet and mild conditions.
"Devon and Ivan struggled with their skis today in the conditions," added Wadsworth. "All of the guys are feeling really good and I think are looking good heading into the Games."
Whitehorse's Emily Nishikawa was the lone Canadian to start in the women's 10-kilometre classic-ski race. Nishikawa placed 40th after clocking a time of 30:06.8.
Norway's Marit Bjoergen finished on top at 26:54.2. Therese Johaug, also of Norway, grabbed the silver medal with a time of 27:30.9, while Sweden's Charlotte Kalla skied to the bronze after stopping the clock at 27:37.1.
The final World Cup race prior to the start of the Olympic Winter Games takes place on Sunday in Toblach, Italy.