Marielle Thompson crashed in her small final and Dave Duncan was involved in a controversial collision of his own, but both Whistler skiers appeared back in form last week.
After Thompson and Duncan failed to qualify for heats during the season’s first World Cup ski cross race at Nakiska, Alta., top-10 results for both at Telluride, Colo., on Thursday (Dec. 13) were a nice way to bounce back.
Thompson and Canadian teammate Kelsey Serwa advanced together through a quarter-final, with Thompson making a late pass to climb into second behind Serwa. She made another impressive pass to slip into third during the semifinal, but wasn’t able to catch Serwa and Swiss skier Fanny Smith.
In the small final, Thompson was hot on the heels of Norway’s Marte Gjefsen, trying to take the lead, but wiped out and settled for eighth. She was unhurt in the crash.
“Pumped on the passes I made today,” the reigning World Cup overall champ said on her Twitter account. “Was about to make one more when my skis got swept from under me. That’s ski cross!”
Canadian head coach Eric Archer said he was pleased with what he saw from Thompson following her rough result on home snow the week before.
“It was a good race for her (after) a little disappointment at Nakiska, not getting into the race,” said Archer. “We’ll get her going in Europe.”
Smith went on to win, followed over the line by veterans Ophelie David and Anna Holmlund. Serwa, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, found the positives in her race despite getting shut out of a podium spot in the final.
“I’m not focused on results right now. I’m just focused on building confidence,” she said. “Today was a big step for me — just getting into the finals. I was stoked.”
Brady Leman took second place in the men’s race for the Canadian team, but Duncan was left to wonder if a podium was possible for him, too, after he was wrongly disqualified from his quarter-final. He finished ninth.
In that heat, Duncan bumped with teammate Ian Deans, taking both out, as well as Finland’s Jouni Pellinen. Duncan made it through the gates and safely reached the bottom in second, but officials improperly determined he had missed a gate and tossed him.
The FIS jury admitted it had made the wrong ruling shortly after, but by then, semifinals were ongoing and it was too late to have Duncan reinstated.
“After the race, video was reviewed and (we) got a rule clarification. Thank you for the apology,” Duncan said in a release.
Deans was hurt in the crash, but team officials were unclear about the extent of his injuries.
Leman’s podium finish was the first for an Alpine Canada racer this season, though he was hopeful for gold after winning the men’s qualification. Slovenia’s Filip Flisar took top spot and Switzerland’s Armin Niederer earned bronze in an extremely close finish.
“The course really suited me, my skis were running really fast and I was pretty solid out of the start all day,” said Leman. “That final heat was as tough a heat as you can have in ski cross these days.”
Deans was 14th and Mathieu Leduc 17th to round out the Canadians who advanced to heats.
There are still two events to go before Christmas on the World Cup ski cross circuit. Racing resumed Wednesday (Dec. 19) at Val Thorens, France, but results were not available at press time. Another race goes Sunday (Dec. 23) at San Candido, Italy.