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Canada’s Thompson punches Sochi ticket in opening ski cross World Cup


FREE STYLE - FIS WC Nakiska, Skicross, Damen

Canada’s Marielle Thompson off to an early lead in Nakiska (GEPA/Matthias Hauer)

NAKISKA, Canada — The Canadian ski cross team got its 2013-14 World Cup season off to a hot start in freezing conditions on Saturday as Marielle Thompson won the women’s final and Brady Leman finished third in the men’s race in Nakiska, Alberta.

Thompson, of Whistler, BC, dominated all three of her heats and did the same in the final to take top honors and become the first Canadian ski cross racer to punch her ticket to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

Leman, of Calgary, Alta., produced a typically gutsy performance to advance from a tough semifinal and came within inches of second place in the men’s final as he made a last-gasp push at the finish line, ultimately finishing third. Kelsey Serwa, of Kelowna, BC, completed a strong comeback from injury by winning the women’s small final to take fifth place overall, while Mathieu Leduc, of Comox, BC finished 12th.

“I’m super excited that I could make this great crowd that’s been out in the cold all day proud and I’m excited our team’s doing really well,” said Thompson, the 2013 world championship silver medalist. “It’s all about the start on this course. I was in that far gate so I knew I had to have a rocket start. I pulled one off and just led the whole way down.

“It’s just super wild that I can represent Canada in the Olympics.”

Thompson, who in 2012 became the first Canadian to win an individual ski cross Crystal Globe as the overall World Cup champion, was flying out of the start gate all day, where her dad, Rod, was working as a volunteer.

“My dad was lifting the start gate at the top. He was cheering for me every time – it was pretty cool,” said Thompson. “This is going to be great for my confidence. I had some great results at the end of last season so I was really trying to build on those coming into this season.”

Swiss ace Fanny Smith finished second in the women’s final and French veteran Ophelie David was third.

Serwa, who came into the week unsure whether she would race following knee surgery, won her first heat and then edged out teammate Georgia Simmerling, of West Vancouver, B.C., in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal she got stuck at the back of a stacked heat and was eliminated. However, she made a superb pass to win the small final to seal a strong return from injury.

“I felt really good about my race today. In my first race back from knee surgery I couldn’t ask for more,” said Serwa, the 2011 world champion and X Games gold medallist, “I messed up the start a few times and that got me but apart from that I’m really happy. The knee held up great. Having Brady and Marielle on the podium is great. We couldn’t ask for a better start to the season.”

Simmerling has been skiing fast in training but was passed by Serwa in her quarter-final and was eliminated after crossing the line in third.

“We were super excited to be starting next to each other but we both messed up our starts pretty badly so it didn’t start well for us from the get-go,” said Simmerling, who was ninth, of racing Serwa. “I’m skiing really well, my confidence is up, and I know I can ski with those girls. I need to ski more aggressively when it comes to heats, though. That’s for sure.”

The other Canadian woman to qualify for Saturday’s round of 32 heats was Danielle Sundquist, of Calgary, who was third in her heat and did not advance.

“I had a great start, but I made a dumb mistake. I left the door open,” said Sundquist, who finished 19th. “I’m not too happy with myself right now.”

Leman, who was ranked No. 2 in the world two years ago and has set some big goals for this season, had to work hard for his place on the podium. He won his first two heats Saturday but found himself at the back of the pack in his semifinal before he managed to claw his way into second place to advance. In the final he almost caught Switzerland’s Armin Niederer, but ended up just behind the Swiss ace and the winner, France’s Jonas Devouassoux.

“I was feeling good all day. This course is long and tiring and I felt like that really suited me,” Leman said. “I had to make a couple moves in the semis to make the finals and once I was there I wanted to win so bad. I’m happy that I still came away with a medal with bronze.

“It was a tough race and I was close to getting silver but just ran out of room there at the end.”

Leman grew up in Calgary and he was cheered on by a large group of family and friends on Saturday.

“It’s huge for me to race at home,” Leman said. “It’s so cool all my family comes up to see me race. I was just taking pictures with my grandma – it’s super special to have a good performance with my friends and family watching.”

Temperatures approaching -30C led to Friday’s race being postponed to Saturday, while Saturday’s race was cancelled. Although temperatures were much warmer at the start of the round of 32 heats on Saturday, later in the day it became extremely cold and conditions were uncomfortable for racers, coaches, volunteers and fans.

“It’s cold out here and it’s hard on the body but I’ve done thousands of runs at Nakiska and in the Rockies so I’m used to the conditions,” said Leman, who hasn’t officially qualified for Sochi but believes he’s likely done enough. “I think I need one more decent result but the podium was the big one I needed. I ticked that off in the first race and it’s over and done now.”

Earlier in the day Leduc had a strong race to advance to the quarter-finals and a career-best 12th-place result.

“It’s only my second year on the World Cup and it’s the first time making it past the first round,” Leduc said. “I had some opportunities in that second heat and I didn’t take them. A little inexperience, I think, but I’ll build on this.”

Dave Duncan, of London, Ont., who was 17th, and Louis-Pierre Hélie, of Berthierville, Que., who was 31st, were both eliminated in the first heats.

“Today was just not my day,” Hélie said. “I got served by the ski cross Gods and couldn’t do anything where I was. It’s just frustrating because I was ready.”

Eric Archer, head coach of the Canadian ski cross team, was a happy man after seeing some strong performances from his team.

“To get a first and a third, two podiums, that’s what we expect. We’ll see if we can keep this thing rolling,” Archer said. “Mar(ielle) needed a 12th place to confirm her for Sochi and she put an exclamation mark on it. Now we can focus on the overall for the season.

“Kelsey was awesome. I don’t know if she expected it but we did. She put in the work and she trained hard and did the extra things she thought she needed mentally and it was great for her to get back in there and win that small final. We’re going to have to do this every week to reclaim the Nations’ Cup as the No. 1 team on the World Cup circuit. It’s going to be a fun winter.”

The second annual Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup at Nakiska featured a longer, bigger and bolder track built by star course builder Jeff Ihaksi. Pete Bosinger, director of events for Alpine Canada, praised the work of officials and volunteers, which allowed the racers to compete on a great track in difficult conditions.

“It was an incredible event. The volunteers made it happen in these cold temperatures,” Bosinger said. “They were out there all day keeping the race rolling.

“It was a safe race, the track was good and we had some exciting racing out there. This is an event that’s going to be known as a classic on the circuit and one that Canadians will be proud of for years to come.

“I’d like to thank Hermes Management, Audi, the Nik Zoricic Foundation, the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, Nakiska Ski Area and all of the sponsors and supporters who made this event happen. The conditions were challenging but we ended up having a great event with some great results for the Canadian crowd.”

During Friday’s qualification round, Chris Del Bosco, of Montreal, Que., Tristan Tafel, of Canmore, Alta., and Tyler Murray, of Abbotsford, BC, were eliminated after finishing outside the top 32. Only the fastest 32 racers advance to the round of 32 heats.

Release courtesy of Alpine Canada

 

Women’s Results

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Result Level Points
 1  7  2527689 THOMPSON Marielle 1992 CAN  1000.00
 2  2  2526373 SMITH Fanny 1992 SUI  800.00
 3  1  2394866 DAVID Ophelie 1976 FRA  600.00
 4  4  2529528 BERGER SABBATEL Marielle 1990 FRA  500.00
 5  11  2527273 SERWA Kelsey 1989 CAN  450.00
 6  6  2526015 OFNER Katrin 1990 AUT  400.00
 7  21  2527906 BARON Alizee 1992 FRA  360.00
 8  24  2527570 LIMBACHER Andrea 1989 AUT  320.00
 9  3  2529582 SIMMERLING Georgia 1989 CAN  290.00
 10  5  2526530 RIEMEN-ZEREBECKA Karolina 1988 POL  260.00
 11  17  2527434 ZACHER Heidi 1988 GER  240.00
 12  23  2528995 MUELLER Jorinde 1993 SUI  220.00
 13  9  2404469 SERAIN Emilie 1984 SUI  200.00
 14  15  2530014 CHIRTCOVA Anastasiia 1990 RUS  180.00
 15  19  2530910 STAUDINGER Christina 1987 AUT  160.00
 16  20  2485085 OWENS Jenny 1978 AUS  150.00
 17  10  2530888 AGUILANIU Aude 1988 BEL  140.00
 18  13  2530111 NAESLUND Sandra 1996 SWE  130.00
 19  16  2527287 SUNDQUIST Danielle 1986 CAN  120.00
 20  22  2531486 ZEMANOVA Andrea 1993 CZE  110.00
 21  25  2526014 MANHARD Christina 1990 GER  100.00
 22  28  2525884 LIVINSKAYA Yulia 1990 RUS  90.00
 23  30  2530013 KOMISSAROVA Maria 1990 RUS  80.00
 24  31  2484649 SARSFIELD Emily 1983 GBR  70.00
 25  12  2526363 MUELLER Katrin 1989 SUI  60.00
 26  14  2529053 EICHINGER Julia 1992 GER  50.00
 27  18  2324342 BERNTSEN Hedda 1976 NOR  45.00
 28  26  2530011 PENTUKHOVA Lidia 1993 RUS  40.00
 29  27  2526527 JENSEN Julie Brendengen 1990 NOR  36.00
 30  29  2526328 KENNEDY-SIM Sami 1988 AUS  32.00
 31  32  2530609 WOLFSGRUBER Sabine 1993 ITA  28.00
 32  8  2527513 HOEIE GJEFSEN Marte 1989 NOR  26.00
 33  2444045 FARIC Sasa 1984 SLO  24.00
 34  2526849 WOERNER Anna 1989 GER  22.00
 35  2529690 THORBURN Pamela 1986 GBR  20.00
 36  2531362 MILLET GOUCHOE Alexia 1990 USA  19.70
 37  2529638 JOFFROY Stephanie 1991 CHI  19.40
 38  2527349 UMEHARA Reina 1983 JPN  0.00
 39  2527168 HIOKI Chiyako 1984 JPN  0.00
 40  2528041 WYATT Rebecca 1992 AUS  0.00
 41  2528883 PRYMAK Tania 1992 USA  0.00
Did not start
 2323372 CREMA Katya 1988 AUS
Did not finish
 2526895 MCNEAL Langely 1984 USA
 2527486 LUEDI Sanna 1986 SUI
 2527841 KUCEROVA Nikol 1989 CZE

 

Men’s Results

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Result Level Points
 1  10  2528672 DEVOUASSOUX Jonas 1989 FRA  1000.00
 2  1  2526291 NIEDERER Armin 1987 SUI  800.00
 3  4  2527286 LEMAN Brady 1986 CAN  600.00
 4  3  2528718 CHAPUIS Jean Frederic 1989 FRA  500.00
 5  8  2527622 JUELL Didrik Bastian 1990 NOR  450.00
 6  20  2529292 MIDOL Jonathan 1988 FRA  400.00
 7  26  2386524 KRAUS Tomas 1974 CZE  360.00
 8  6  2527296 BOHNACKER Daniel 1990 GER  320.00
 9  5  2527361 PELLINEN Jouni 1983 FIN  290.00
 10  16  2411938 ZANGERL Thomas 1983 AUT  260.00
 11  18  2527624 GASSER Patrick 1985 SUI  240.00
 12  19  2529580 LEDUC Mathieu 1990 CAN  220.00
 13  12  2528515 MIDOL Bastien 1990 FRA  200.00
 14  15  2528200 FISCHER Thomas 1986 GER  180.00
 15  24  2525886 KOROTKOV Egor 1986 RUS  160.00
 16  27  2528452 BISCHOFBERGER Marc 1991 SUI  150.00
 17  9  2526897 DUNCAN David 1982 CAN  140.00
 18  11  2528541 OEHLING NORBERG Victor 1990 SWE  130.00
 19  13  2527142 GRIMUS Anton 1990 AUS  120.00
 20  14  2526877 BOVOLENTA Arnaud 1988 FRA  110.00
 21  17  2529198 TOMASI Marco 1987 ITA  100.00
 22  21  2529330 MITHASSEL Christian 1987 NOR  90.00
 23  23  2387009 LEWEN Lars 1975 SWE  80.00
 24  31  2526998 WAHRSTOETTER Christoph 1989 AUT  70.00
 25  2  2526955 FIVA Alex 1986 SUI  60.00
 26  7  2451417 MATT Andreas 1982 AUT  50.00
 27  22  2527607 BORGE LIE Thomas 1985 NOR  45.00
 28  25  2525888 MOZHAEV Sergey 1988 RUS  40.00
 29  28  2527032 FLISAR Filip 1987 SLO  36.00
 30  29  2527846 ANIKIN Ivan 1988 RUS  32.00
 31  30  2530524 HELIE Louis-Pierre 1986 CAN  28.00
 32  32  2485016 DANILOV Artem 1986 RUS  26.00
 33  2527992 SWENSSON Joe 1986 USA  24.00
 34  2526137 FORSLUND Michael 1986 SWE  22.00
 35  2529006 ROHRWECK Johannes 1990 AUT  20.00
 36  2527297 EIGLER Florian 1990 GER  19.70
 37  2450835 MIAILLIER Sylvain 1986 FRA  19.40
 38  2529466 EKLUND John 1993 SWE  19.10
 39  2527299 NAGL Rupert 1989 GER  18.80
 40  2391471 MANI Alois 1983 SUI  18.50
 41  2530862 OGORELC Blaz 1990 SLO  18.20
 42  2529953 THANEI Stefan 1981 ITA  17.90
 43  2527042 ECKERT Paul 1990 GER  17.60
 44  2527144 KNELLER Scott 1989 AUS  17.30
 45  2526820 DELBOSCO Christopher 1982 CAN  17.00
 46  2528959 TAFEL Tristan 1990 CAN  16.70
 47  2529980 RIDZIK Sergey 1992 RUS  16.40
 48  2385263 KONO Kenji 1983 JPN  16.10
 49  2485244 SCHAUER Andreas 1986 GER  15.80
 50  2526789 STICKL Simon 1987 GER  15.50
 51  2526524 RING CHRISTENSEN Morten 1990 NOR  15.20
 52  2527399 TELLER John 1983 USA  14.90
 53  2530791 PREBBLE Jamie 1991 NZL  14.60
 54  2528956 ILIN Roman 1992 RUS  14.30
 55  2531112 DRAKE Ed 1986 GBR  14.00
 56  2528877 PROMOK Franz 1987 AUT  13.70
 57  2528709 CASTELLAZ Diego 1985 ITA  13.40
 58  2529200 CROSSAN Brant 1992 USA  13.10
 59  2529696 MAURIELLO Francesco 1994 ITA  12.80
 60  2529427 GREGORIO Borja 1992 SPA  12.50
 61  2529777 LENHERR Jonas 1989 SUI  0.00
 62  2528986 MAHRE Robert 1987 USA  0.00
 63  2529201 WALLASCH Tyler 1994 USA  0.00
 64  2527952 WHELAN Peter Edwin 1989 GBR  0.00
 65  2528911 MURRAY Tyler 1992 CAN  0.00
 66  2529564 MONFORTE Nicolo 1995 USA  0.00
Did not start
 2526971 RICIOLI Trevor 1985 USA
US matches best relay result in historyJust call it 'Lake Hoefl-Riesch'

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