Cross-country skiing: Antoine Cyr is ahead of his childhood idol

Cross-country skiing: Antoine Cyr is ahead of his childhood idol


SAINT-FERRÉOL-LES-NEIGES | Before putting away your skis for a well-deserved rest of a month after experiencing its best season in career, Antoine Cyr took the start of the Alex Harvey Classic where he finally overtook the greatest medalist in Canadian cross-country skiing.

With three Top 10 in the World Cup , including a fourth place at Valdi Fiemme in Italy, Cyr took the opportunity to pay tribute to Harvey. 

“Alex has been retired since 2019 and we needed four years to be able to beat him,” he said. That says a lot about the incredible athlete that he is. He beat us last year. Alex has been my idol since I was very young and he is now my friend. 

No Canadian had enjoyed so much World Cup success since Harvey's golden years. < /p>

“This is by far my best season of my career,” said the Gatineau cross-country skier. I took a big step in the right direction. I knocked on the door of the podium a few times and that will be my goal next year, whether solo or as a team. 

Question of confidence

When he finds himself in the front runners, Cyr now has the confidence to compete with the stars of the discipline. 

“ This confidence will help me, but my results will also help the guys I train with at the Pierre Harvey National Training Center (CNEPH). They will realize that they are close and that they are capable. It's fun for the whole team. »

Olivier Léveillé agrees with his teammate.

“It's super motivating to see Antoine achieve so many Top 10s,” said the Sherbrooke founder. We are going to work super hard this summer so that Antoine can be on the podium next season and that I close the gap with the Top 10. His performance makes me believe it. I am not far from Antoine in training. He is dominant in classic style, but I know I can be not that far if I keep working. 

Qualified for the Beijing Games despite not having celebrated his 21st birthday, Léveillé is happy with the consistency he has shown this year.

“I would have liked to get a good one like last year, but the consistency I have shown is encouraging for the future. I was luckier in 2022 and the stars were aligned for several days. This year in freestyle, we had several days of soft snow while I'm at my best on concrete conditions. »

Nice things

In her first season on the World Cup, Liliane Gagnon showed great things.

“I didn't know what to expect and I surprised myself,” she said. I'm really happy with my season. It's rare that we can say that, but I achieved all my goals by participating in a first World Cup, by qualifying for my first senior worlds and by finishing in the Top 15 (12th place) in the World U-23. The more the season progressed, the more I improved. I'm more motivated than ever for what's next. » 

Twice as many participants this year 

In its second edition, the Alex Harvey Classic magnetized double of participants from last year with 500 cross-country skiers who met on a superb sunny day.

“I wanted the event to grow. It is a bit surprising that participation has doubled in one year. In addition, there is a big team in the organization. Because the goal is to raise money for the National Center, it's fun that people have responded in large numbers. 

Significant sum

The activity raised between $25,000 and $30,000 according to Center Louis Bouchard head coach.

In a friendly tone, Harvey had challenged Antoine Cyr and Olivier Léveillé on the identity of the winner of the 50 km. 

“ On a normal day, I knew they would be ahead of me, he pointed out. Last year they were tired after a long season. On equal terms, this is not the first year that they have beaten me. 

“Because I had less training volume than last year, it was very painful,” continues Harvey, who took fourth place. I already had cramps everywhere at the 20th km. Yes, my life has changed [fatherhood, work], but I still have so much fun cross-country skiing. »

Very happy

Present at the event for the first time, Pierre Harvey was also delighted with the participation. 

“I am very happy with the great turnout. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to the athletes. I am very happy that people on the Board of Directors of the Center had the idea to start this project. I am convinced that it will be even better next year. 

In retirement, Harvey puts on his boards almost every day. Last year, he had not taken the start of the Classic since he was participating at the same time in the World Masters Championship in Canmore.

“As Antoine [Cyr] said during the cocktail, money is the sinews of war to compete with big nations like Norway and Sweden which have huge budgets, underlined Olivier Léveillé who had missed the first edition due to COVID-19. It's beautiful to see, such a success, after only two years. It will have a big impact in the future. 

After a strong start, Léveillé reduced the pace at the 35th kilometer. “Antoine skied really hard and I decided to come back at my own pace. I wanted to make sure I made it to the finish. Right from the start, I felt tired in my legs.