Photo: CP Images

World class skiers sprint to Quebec City

The elite cross-country skiing world is sliding into Quebec – and Canada’s best are set to shine.

From December 6 to 9, 2012, the streets of historic Quebec City will play host to the FIS Cross Country Sprint Race World Cup. Taking place on the surroundings of Parliament, the event will be held for the very first time in North America.

Front and centre will be 50 Canadian athletes, seven of them World Cup athletes including hometown hero and 2010 Olympian Alex Harvey, son of legendary Quebecois skier Pierre Harvey.

“I’m excited to race at home for the first time,” said the 24-year-old Harvey. “To be part of this and just be back here sleeping in my own bed and be around my family and friends is great. My first World Cup medal was in Canada. I do thrive when there is extra pressure and the adrenaline. I’ve always seemed to put the best results in on those big events. It gives me such motivation.”

Along with Harvey will be Olympic teammate and close friend Devon Kershaw. The duo finished fourth in the team sprint at the Vancouver Games and will be joining forces again this weekend.

The pair has had a slow start to the season as they attempt to the get their legs and rhythm back from 2011 when they were crowned World Champions in the team sprint event.

“We are getting better each week,” said Harvey. “We started a bit tired. If we want to be winning medals in February we can’t be dominating this early in the season.”

A highlight moment domestically would mean even more in a city where Harvey is adored and Kershaw has become an adopted son due to their partnership.

Kershaw says the magnitude of this competition will be huge for the growth of the sport in Quebec, something both skiers take seriously.

“I am thrilled to be here,” said Kershaw, a native of Sudbury, ON. “When we raced nationals here last year, it was the biggest domestic race I have ever been a part of. It is just so good for our sport to see things evolve out east as well. It is going to be awesome.”

The 850 metre course was designed specifically to allow for an unprecedented  fan experience that will allow spectators to be front and centre to watch some of their favourite athletes compete.

“I am most looking forward to the atmosphere at this race,” said 2006 Olympic gold medallist Chandra Crawford. “Getting on my skis and feeling the energy and dedicating my performance to everyone who dedicated themselves to bringing the first ever world cup to Quebec … I feel so supported and stronger than ever in the big races at home. I appreciate it so much how people work to get this done for us.”

The competition can be viewed in its entirety on CBC TV and