Today is finally race day for Canada Ski Cross and Marielle Thompson, and also marks the kick-off of the FIS Ski Cross World Cup Cross Alps Tour. The tour includes six races in 14 day, over 1000km of terrain, from the French Alps to the Italian Dolomites.
Canada’s Marielle Thompson came out on-top today on a track where she took back-to-back wins in the double-header race in 2015. Thompson pulled onto the track in the final heat with a stacked round of competition. Lagging in the top section of the course, she pulled into first-place after Anna Holmlund (SWE) crashed into Sandra Naeslund (SWE), taking her first win of the season. Switzerland’s Fanny Smith was running in fourth-place and capitalized on the crash, landing on the podium in second-place.
“I’m happy to have the first win of the season,” said Thompson. “I’m hoping to ski better tomorrow since I made a few mistakes today. I’ll be focusing on the start tomorrow and hoping to dial it in a bit more.”
Veteran Chris Del Bosco sailed through every heat of the day, right into the big final where he battled tough competitors. Last year, Del Bosco took the win on this season-opener track. In a major upset, Del Bosco straddled a gate on the negative turn, relegating his second-place finish to a fourth-place result. The 2016 overall champion, Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA), took today’s top spot with his teammate, Sylvian Miaillier landing beside him on the podium in second-place. Sweden’s Victor Oehling Norberg lucked out and landed on the podium in third-place.
Today’s Val Thorens, France track is 1,200 metre long and has been a staple on the tour since 2013. Traditionally, this has been one of the longest tracks on tour and stands up to that description for today’s race.
Thompson joined teammate and Olympic silver medallist Kelsey Serwa in the semi-finals. With Serwa leading the whole way down, Thompson closed the gap over the final feature on the course pushing Serwa out of advancing to the next heat by a photo-finish almost too close to call. Serwa went onto to race the small final, finishing in eighth-place.
It was Georgia Simmerling’s first World Cup race back since winning a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with Canada Cycle. Simmerling finished fourth in qualifications, earning the right to pick members of her first heat but a poor start knocked her out in the first round.
Last season, Kevin Drury saw a career-best fourth-place finish on his first year on the World Cup season. In today’s race, he was knocked into the small final round and hung onto a seventh-place finish in the season opener.
The huge negative turn, dubbed the basketball turn, caused all sort of shakeups today, including knocking veteran Calgary boy, Brady Leman, out of the ¼ finals. The same turn also ultimately knocked Del Bosco off the podium into fourth-place.
Canada had ten members of Canada Ski Cross qualify for today’s race, including six men and four women. Last year’s overall Nor-Am Cup winner, Ned Ireland, as well as Kristofor Mahler, both ran qualification rounds fast enough to land them start spots today. Today marked Ireland’s first World Cup start. For both rookies, inexperience and a tough track resulted in first-round elimination.
All the athletes are back at it again for back-to-back days of competition on the same track. Stay tuned for more exciting ski cross action.
Canadian Ladies’ Results
1 – Marielle Thompson
8 – Kelsey Serwa
9 – Georgia Simmerling
12 – Brittany Phelan
Canadian Men’s Results
2 – Chris Del Bosco
7 – Kevin Drury
14 – Brady Leman
22 – Kristofor Mahler
24 – Ned Ireland
31 – Dave Duncan
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