Already in a hole, Whistler’s Marielle Thompson could have done without falling into one.
The defending World Cup ski cross champ’s tough times with qualifications continued Tuesday (Jan. 15) at Megeve, France, when she touched down in a hole that had been created on the landing area of the course’s final jump. Her ski popped off, leaving her in 34th place.
The result was particularly heartbreaking because Thompson was putting down a quick run, and because the women’s event was expanded to a full bracket of 32 skiers for the first time this season. That format, used for the Olympics and world championships, will become more commonplace in women’s racing down the road.
“Looking at the splits, she was in eighth place when she crashed. She was on her way to a decent result, so she can take some confidence from that, and she had good times in the training runs as well,” said Canadian head coach Eric Archer.
Recording good times in qualifiers has been the challenge for the 20-year-old this season, as she has missed out on race heats in four of six races to start the season. She was 22nd and did not advance on Saturday (Jan. 12) at Les Contamines, France, either.
“The good thing about her is she’s really easygoing,” said Archer. “Sometimes, you want her to get a little more angry when stuff like this happens. I know it’s eating at her a little bit.
“This next event in Germany is a little more wide-open style course, which suits her a little better, so hopefully we can get her going there.”
Teammate Kelsey Serwa continued her return to form with a second-place finish at Megeve in Wednesday’s (Jan. 16) women’s heats. The reigning world champ made an impressive pass to go from fourth to second in the final, moving into second place in the season standings after the result. She was the top Canadian at Les Contamines as well, finishing 10th. Mariannick Therer’s 16th-place finish at Megeve was a career best.
The Canadian men’s team had a sluggish start to 2013 at the two French venues, as Tristan Tafel’s ninth-place finish on Wednesday was the best showing for the team at either stop this week.
However, Whistler’s Dave Duncan has remained consistent, as his quarter-final appearance at Megeve was the fifth-straight race in which he’s advanced past the round of 32. He wound up 15th on Wednesday, nearly matching a team-best, 14th-place result at Les Contamines.
“Last year, he had a problem (of getting) great results and then not qualifying. At least now he’s getting consistent (in qualification),” said Archer.
Duncan now sits 11th in the World Cup rankings while Brady Leman, who was 28th on Wednesday, is still hanging on to third spot.
With two weeks until the next World Cup race, the Canadian team is coming home for a 10-day break before returning to Europe for the remainder of its schedule. The ski cross schedule has been busy early in the winter, so Serwa said the team is looking forward to the time off.
“I was in Whistler before we came out (to France) and it was sunny and beautiful every day, but it started dumping snow after we left, so hopefully we get some of that powder when we come back this time,” laughed Serwa.
The circuit resumes with a doubleheader at Grasgehren, Germany, starting Feb. 1.