Until his recent return to the city, Louis Bouchard had not yet realized what awaited him. Throughout the year, the idea that Alex Harvey’s career was drawing to a close meant that he had to keep his focus on the present moment and not on the future. “It allowed me to come back to earth,” he says as the grand finale approaches.
The head coach of the Canadian team and the Pierre Harvey National Center, who has been working hand in hand with Canada ‘s best historic founder in history, is now aware that the end is coming. Harvey bows out this weekend as part of the finals of the cross-country skiing World Cup.
Bouchard arrives at the end of a long cycle that has made him live unique moments with a high-tech athlete who has become his friend over time.
“We know that it will take years before we find another like him. Canada is not Norway or Russia, where new ones come out every year. We will start again with the young people and I feel like working with them. I still have more to give than before, I have more expertise, I know what is the profile to excel internationally to have coached one of the best in the world. I have an idea of the model we’re looking for to find another champion, “he said on Wednesday at the Plains of Abraham competition site behind the Armory.
But before thinking about the future, the coach looked rather behind, reviewing the film of the career of Alex Harvey. And his, since the two have gone down together in the adventure without ever separating. “He changed my career,” admitted Bouchard, who remembered everything, and even more …
Discovery at the age of 13 or 14, where Alex was identified as part of the Quebec development team. At age 15, he would then make his first selection for the World Junior Championships. A year later, Bouchard had confirmation that he was a special athlete.
“Petter Northug [one of his great career rivals] was older than he was two years old and he had won everything. Alex finished 16 th in the 10 km. He was in the lead pack, except that he had fallen downhill. He fell 70 th , but had bounced back without panic, he really impressed me. Same thing in his first senior year, in 2009. Nobody knew him, and then, boom, bronze medal in the 50 km. ”
It was the beginning of a long adventure, punctuated by moments of glory, but also more difficult days.
The gold medal at the 2017 Lahti World Championships is at the top of his podium, which is also completed by the 2011 Oslo World Team sprint gold medal and one-two ( second and third) in the classic 15 km of the 2013 Tour de Ski with teammate Len Valjas, who is also retiring at the end of the week.
“I’ve been blessed to work with these guys, and this winter, we took the time to remember all we had lived together.”
The other side of the coin, the Harvey / Bouchard duo, discovered it at the PyeongChang Olympics. “The 2018 Games were tough, because I did not have a B plan. For me, there is only Plan A that exists, I still think we will win. Alex had always been successful at the Worlds in his career, but at the Games, it had spanked, “he said about the lack of a podium.
Medal or not, Bouchard will see a winner watching his protégé take the start of his last three career races, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“He has always been good at these meetings, he will empty his tank, give his best to make a good show and compete with the world elite, as he has done for 10 years. There is so much mutual respect between him and his competitors that no matter the outcome, the end will be beautiful. ”
He knows enough about it to say it!