BEITOSTOELEN, Norway — Alex Harvey struggled to find the rhythm needed to be successful in a rare 30-kilometre individual start cross-country skate-ski distance race on Saturday at the World Cup in Beitostolen, Norway.
The three-time Olympian from St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que. dug deep and grinded out a 13th place finish with a time of one hour 11 minutes 43.3 seconds.
"It was better than last weekend, but I'm just not feeling that great right now in the distance races," said Harvey. "I'll need to take some time to try and analyze things to close the gap."
Skiing solo for the first three of six loops on the punishing Norwegian tracks, Harvey bounced around from 10th to 13th spot in each of the splits throughout the course, while fighting to gain precious time on the lead pace.
"It (individual distance start) are so hard, especially on this course here. It is steady work the whole time. It is a mental and physical battle and you just need to find the rhythm that is good enough to last 30 kilometres," said Harvey, who has one sprint podium in the early World Cup season.
"At the end of the day, it is all about shape. The pacing is one thing, but there is no hiding in these individual start races. If you don't have the legs you won't find a miracle out there. It is all shape."
Norway's Sjur Roethe took gold, setting the time to beat in each of his six laps around the course, finishing with a winning time of 1:09:53.5.
Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby was the next best finisher, 35.2 seconds back, in second place at 1:10:28.7. Russia's Andrey Melnichenko steadily worked his way up the leaderboard as the race progressed, grabbing third place with a time of 1:10:42.7.
Andy Shields of Thunder Bay, Ont., was the only other Canadian in the field. Shields stopped the clock at 1:16:59.1 for 63rd spot.
Meanwhile, Emily Nishikawa and Cendrine Browne got their World Cup seasons off to a solid start in the women's 15-kilometre individual skate-ski start competition.
The 29-year-old Nishikawa finished just outside the prestigious group of 30, placing 34th. The two-time Olympian from Whitehorse battled through the dusting of fresh snow that fell on the Norwegian trail to post a time of 41:35.5
Browne, of Saint-Jerome, Que., was steady throughout the 15-kilometre trek. The 25-year-old finished in 38th spot with a time of 41:50.3.
Norway's Therese Johaug won her fifth race of the World Cup season, setting the time to beat at 37:33.9
Sweden's Charlotte Kalla clocked-in at 38:39.8 for second place, while Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg was third at 38:40.0