Calgary’s Brady Leman captures second and had a fantastic race day to continue the streak of Canada Ski Cross having at least one athlete on the podium at every World Cup. It was the second day of racing on the technical, difficult and long Val Thorens, France ski cross track. Top athletes Chris Del Bosco and Marielle Thompson did not find themselves in the big final.
Brady Leman, the 2016 X-Games champion, won heat after heat today, right through to the big finals holding onto second-place down the majority of the track. Capturing his first World Cup podium of the season, Leman showed his veteran skill and ability to be a top contender on the circuit. In yesterday’s race, Leman was uncharacteristically knocked out early but found redemption today. Leman finished the 2016 season ranked third overall in the world, claiming five podium finishes throughout the season.
“I’m a lot happier today!” said Leman. “Yesterday after the race we reviewed tape and came up with a new strategy to deal with the negative turn that took me out yesterday. I’m really happy to be back on the podium and it’s a great boost of confidence ahead of the rest of the season.”
Besting Leman in today’s big final was Alex Fiva from Switzerland and landing in third-place was Viktor Andersson from Sweden.
B.C.’s Kelsey Serwa, Canada Ski Cross veteran athlete, narrowly missed out on a podium finish and ended the weekend’s second of two races with a respectable fourth-place finish. The former X-Games champion and Olympic silver-medallist, showed moments of brilliance and perfect technique throughout the day. In the semi-finals, Serwa executed a textbook pass over the basketball turn that has caused so many upsets over the past few days, which advanced her to the big finals.
Taking the podium from Serwa was the 2016 Crystal Globe winner, Anna Holmlund from Sweden in first-place, her teammate Sandra Naeslund in second-place and Germany’s Daniela Maier finishing in third-place.
Canada also saw exciting action in the small finals with Marielle Thompson and Dave Duncan both battling it out for a top eight finish.
Thompson had a great start in the small final and held onto her lead for the entire run, finishing in fifth-place with a sizable lead, finding redemption after not making the big final.
After an early ejection from yesterday’s race, Duncan battled back today and capitalized on a crash in the semi finals to make it to the small finals, a position he hasn’t seen since 2014 at the Nakiska, Alberta ski cross race. The B.C.-native and ski cross veteran finished the day in sixth-place.
The tough course and challenging heats took out six Canadians in the first rounds today, including a disappointing upset for veteran Chris Del Bosco who finished the 2015-16 season ranked second in the world. He shot wide on the difficult basketball turn, forfeiting his second-place spot in that heat and a chance to move onto the quarterfinals. Kevin Drury, who finished in seventh-place yesterday, was knocked out in his first round heat. Team rookie, Kristofor Mahler, was also a victim of the basketball turn, knocking him out in the first round. Today marked Ned Ireland’s second World Cup start and despite showing extreme talent, the tough track was too much for the young racer to advance.
All Canadian women raced in different heats today but two of four qualified athletes missed advancing in their heat. B.C.’s Georgia Simmerling is still finding her race legs after making the transition back to ski cross from competitive cycling. A slow start had her finishing the first heat in third-place meaning she did not advance. Brittany Phelan, who made the transition to ski cross from alpine skiing, had her career best performance finishing third in her heat and finished the day in 11th place.
The Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup Cross Alps Tour continues with another race Tuesday in Arosa, Switzerland where the athletes will continue to battle for top spot.
Canadian Men’s results
2 – Brady Leman
6 – Dave Duncan
17 – Chris Del Bosco
21 – Kristofo Mahler
26 – Kevin Drury
31 – Ned ireland
Canadian Ladies’ results
4 – Kelsey Serwa
5 – Marielle Thompson
9 – Georgia Simmerling
11 – Brittany Phelan
Full results here.