Alex Harvey, 24, might spend eight months of the year training and competing abroad, but one of Québec’s best-known cross-country skiers can never resist the call of home for long.
As a boy, Alex Harvey remembers wearing out his shoes on the narrow cobblestoned streets of Old Québec. “We loved going to Place d’Armes. We lived in the suburbs and coming into Québec City was really something,” says the young athlete. And yet the city quickly became the young man’s outdoor playground. By the tender age of five, he was already competing in his first cross-country ski competition on the Plains of Abraham. Between sliding at Mont-Sainte-Anne, picnicking at Montmorency Falls, and running on the plains, Alex’s memories play out to a backdrop of wide-open spaces. “In Québec City it’s easy to play sports right downtown. It’s great!” he enthuses, adding that every year he kicks himself for missing Red Bull Crashed Ice, the extreme skating race in the heart of Old Québec. This December he’ll be competing closer to home in the Cross-Country World Cup, a snowball’s throw from Québec’s National Assembly. The course reminds him of Stockholm, where a similar race is held every year around the Royal Palace. “It’s a great way to bring the mountain to the city,” he says. “The course brings you right up to the crowds, who give you a real energy boost.” And energy isn’t something Québec City is in short supply of. “It’s been known as a city of festivals on both sides of the Atlantic for years,” he smiles, noting that few cities around the world can boast such enthusiasm for extreme sports. With the Cross-Country World Cup, Red Bull Crashed Ice, and the Snowboard World Championships—featuring a big air event smack bang in the middle of the city—Québec City has become a sporting destination that few can keep up with.
His laptop: to IM, tweet, and Facebook family and friends, keep himself entertained on the plane, and watch movies in his hotel room.
His headphones: to cut himself off from the rest of the world and keep jet lag at bay.
His box of sunglasses: so that his collection of glasses can follow him around, in all their models and colours.
10 years from now? He’ll be… in Québec City, an international law attorney or a corporate lawyer. Still with a place in his life for sport, his kids running after him.
Nouvo Saint-Roch Neighbourhood. A cool blend of old and new, with chic restaurants and all kinds of boutiques.
Resto Le Cercle. For the atmosphere and the tasting menu to share with friends, for the freshness, and the carb-filled dishes!
Café Le Nektar. For the wide range of teas and coffees—hot and iced—and Alex’s favourite: the chilled herbal teas.
The Plains of Abraham: for its cross-country ski loop right in the city.
La Forêt Montmorency: for the snow, 10 days before everyone else, and the 900 metres of altitude.
Le Parc des Moustiques: because he’s a little biased and that’s where he grew up, right beside Mont-Sainte-Anne.
By Diane Laberge