Alex Harvey charges to 4th in men's 50km mass start classic

In final Winter Games, skier says it 'would have been easier to finish 5th'

By CBC Sports

Alex Harvey stayed in bronze-medal contention for much of the race and came away with a career-best individual Olympic finish, placing fourth in the 50-kilometre mass start classic on Saturday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Competing in his third Winter Games, the 29-year-old finished with a time of two hours 11 minutes and 5.7 seconds – just six seconds shy of the podium.

Harvey told CBC Sports he will end his Olympic career satisfied with how the Canadian team performed in Pyeongchang, but was feeling the sting of finishing just off the podium.

"It's the second I'm fourth at the Olympic games, first time was at my first Olympics," said Harvey, who helped Canada to fourth place in the team sprint on home soil at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

"So it was a bit different [than 2010] not many expectations on us. This one is a bit harder to accept. It's life, it's sport. It's still a great race but of course fourth is one of the hardest place to end up."

Finland's Niskanen takes gold

Finland's Iivo Niskanen crossed the line first in 2:08:22.1, while Olympic Athletes from Russia Alexander Bolshunov (2:08:40.8) and Andrey Larkov (2:10:59.6) claimed silver and bronze, respectively.

Harvey told reporters that while he believes the two athletes from Russia that finished ahead of him are clean, lingering doubt is part of the reason why he says it was so difficult to finish fourth.

"You want to believe in the new generation of Russians, so you've got to give them the benefit of the doubt, for sure.

"But it's one of the reasons why it's so hard to be fourth, with two Russians ahead of me, I'm not going to lie," Harvey said. "But I do believe that these younger guys are doing it clean, but with everything we've seen, I mean, even here, we've seen some doping cases here.

"But I do believe they're clean, but in the back of my mind, of course, there's a bit of a doubt."

Devon Kershaw of Sudbury finished 26th, one spot ahead of Fort McMurray, Alta.'s, Graeme Killick. Russell Kennedy of Canmore Alta., was 49th to round out the Canadians in the field.

Harvey, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., finished 32nd at the 2010 Games and 19th four years later in Sochi in the 50-km event.

Harvey is the reigning world champion in the 50-km mass start free, but has never captured an Olympic medal.

However, Harvey made history in January with his third-overall finish in the Tour de Ski, becoming the first non-European male to reach the overall podium. 

Harvey finished seventh in the 15-km freestyle event earlier in Pyeongchang.

With files from The Canadian Press