Olympics: Canadian McIvor wins women’s ski cross gold
CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BC (Feb. 23) – For the first time in weeks, it snowed at Cypress Mountain today. The flakes started falling just as the inaugural Olympic women’s ski cross event kicked off. The winter weather didn’t stop the racers, however, as Canadian Ashleigh McIvor won the first gold medal of the new event.
Norway’s Hedda Bernsten took the silver medal ahead of French skier Marion Josserand with the bronze. McIvor led the entire final heat, but Bernsten and Josserand traded places twice through the course’s rolling sections.
"It's fabulous to have been here and come in with the favorites," said Josserand, who grabbed much of the attention at the podium press conference. "My parents are not skiers. They just won't believe what's happened to me."
McIvor, the defending world champion, had a master’s touch on the course’s challenging Wu-Tang feature. The W shaped set of ramps that challenge racers right out of the start gate, slowed racers and changed the look of heats all day long. McIvor, who has had plenty of opportunities to train on the feature, sailed to the front of each of her four heats and went on to win the first medal of any color by a Canadian ski racer at these games.
"It's just so awesome to represent my home country, my home province, my hometown at the Olympic Games," said McIvor who is dating ski cross teammate Christopher Del Bosco. "It's weird. This is the only race of my life, when I just felt like I was going to win."
"I only know that I thought I was going to win. I used to think that I was going to jinx it, if I thought that," continued McIvor. "But I had a really good feeling about this race. Since the X Games, I knew I could get outside the starting gates faster than the fastest starters. It's a crazy feeling, but I knew I was going to win."
Bernsten was McIvor’s only challenger all day. The two crossed paths in the semifinal when Bernsten made a great pass in the middle of the course. McIvor looking back to see she had a finals spot in the bag, took it easy through the remainder of the heat and went on to dominate Bernsten and everyone else in the final.
It looked like might come down to a pair of Canadians as Kelsy Serwa qualified fourth then handily beat out all challengers in her first two heats. The trend was broken when Swede Karin Huttary charged from the back of the pack, taking advantage of a rare mistake by Serwa and running away with the semifinal win. Serwa was also passed by Josserand and was forced to settle for winning the small final and fifth-place overall.
"Ashleigh is really, really good, so she makes it look easy and that's cool," said Serwa. "I wanted to be in the Final with Ashleigh [McIvor] but I did the best I could. I won the Small Final and that's the best I could do in that situation."
Julia Murray, daughter of crazy Canuck Dave Murray (who the men’s alpine Olympic course is named after), overcame a knee injury late in the season to participate in her first Olympics and come away with a 12th-place finish after a mistake in her quarterfinal heat cost her precious speed and she was eliminated.
The win was especially sweet for the Canadian team and fans who where disappointed after their men’s team failed to produce a medal on Sunday.
For second consecutive day, Cypress Mountain was the site of a huge upset. Last night World Cup leading aerialist Anton Kushnir blew the landing of his second qualifying jump, and failed to make the 12-man final. Today, six-time World Cup champion and four-time X Games champ Ophelie David, 33, of France misread a jump at the top of the course, fell and was pushed to a fourth-place finish in her quarterfinal heat.
No American women ski cross racers qualified for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Ski Team.
Click the attachment below to see a complete race ladder.
Image by Gepa
|8||18||2526527||BRENDENGEN JENSEN Julie||1990||NOR||320.00|
|11||12||2527513||HOEIE GJEFSEN Marte||1989||NOR||240.00|
|27||27||2484802||KVINLOG GENLID Gro||1976||NOR||45.00|