Alpine skiing’s rebel fringe is becoming its selling point.
Olympic ski-cross gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor captured a World Cup silver medal on Sunday, just behind Fanny Smith of Switzerland in San Candido, Italy.
Formally, it was called a World Cup SX race, but it looked more like full-contact skiing – with racers cutting in front of each other and drafting. The slide ride “The race organizers flew four [course designers] over to the X-Games and were taking notes,” said McIvor, 27, who posted the 10th podium finish of her career and missed the gold by less than a foot.
“They were definitely on a mission to improve the event … and conditions have improved 500 per cent from last year. There’s steps, and doubles and gaps and a roller-coaster feel. It’s like being on my mountain bike.
“Every single heat was action-packed. It’s the way ski-cross should be. It’s an amazing spectator sport.”
McIvor, winner of a world championship at Inawashiro, Japan, in 2009, was sitting in third place midway through the final, behind Smith and front-runner Anna Holmlund of Sweden. The win was within her grasp – Holmlund pushed Smith and wound up pushing herself off the course – but McIvor came up just short.
“I know Fanny is a really good skier, she’s super dialled in with her technical ability. So, I just stayed right on her the whole way down and waited for an opportunity to get by Anna,” said McIvor, who produced a frustrating seventh place a day earlier.
McIvor also said she and the other racers have enjoyed the slightly less stressful post-Olympic atmosphere at the opening World Cup races of a new Olympic cycle.
Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., in the second World Cup race of her career, was eighth; Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C. was 11th; Danielle Poleschuk of Calgary, 12th; and Julia Murray of Whistler, 14th.
On the men’s side, X-Games gold medalist Chris Del Bosco – a Vail, Colo., resident whose Canadian address is Sudbury – was fifth; Nick Zoricic of Toronto, eighth; David Duncan of London, Ont., 12th; Davey Barr of Whistler, 19th; Stan Rey of Whistler, 27th. The men’s race was won by Scott Kneller of Australia.