OBERHOF, Germany (AP) — Alex Harvey shrugged off a broken ski and difficult conditions to win the 4.5-kilometer freestyle prologue for the Tour de Ski on Saturday, beating Canadian teammate Devon Kershaw by 4.1 seconds.
In the women's prologue, overall cross-country World Cup leader Marit Bjoergen led a 1-2 Norwegian finish in a 3-kilometer race. Mild and rainy weather forced organizers to shorten the course and change the format of the competition, a decision that led to the withdrawal of four-time women's Tour winner Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland. The Olympic champion said it was unfair to have five freestyle and only two classical races in the seven-stage event.
"The changed program doesn't fit into my Olympic preparations," said Kowalczyk, a classical style specialist. Harvey's right ski broke early in the race and he was given a replacement from his team. With fog also coming down on the course, Harvey covered the distance in 9 minutes, 3.4 seconds to edge Kershaw. Chris Jespersen of Norway was third, 10.2 seconds behind.
Bjoergen covered the distance in 6 minutes, 34.4 seconds to leave teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen 1.9 seconds behind. Sylwia Jaskowiec of Poland was 7 seconds behind in third. Denise Herrmann of Germany was fourth, ahead of Jessica Diggins of the United states.
The Tour ends in Italy on Jan. 5.