Whistler's Thompson tops Olympic podium

First-time Olympian cruises to ski cross gold; Whistler's Janyk 16th in final Olympic race

Whistler has another Olympic ski cross champion to call its own.

Marielle Thompson had a gold medal placed around her neck Friday (Feb. 21) after she claimed victory at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in a one-two finish with Kelowna's Kelsey Serwa.

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"It's crazy, I don't think it's sunk in yet," Thompson told media immediately following the race. "I just had a big wave of emotion. I'm so, so happy, especially to be up there with my teammate."

Just two Olympic golds have ever been awarded in women's ski cross, and with Ashleigh McIvor winning the first in 2010, both now belong to Whistler skiers.

As the World Cup leader and winner of two races already this season, Thompson was the favourite to win on Friday and did not disappoint. After finishing with the third-fastest qualification time, the 21-year-old got out front and controlled her heats with ease, taking the victory in all of them. The only time she had any difficulty on course came when she bumped with Swiss skier Sanna Luedi in the quarter-finals, but stayed upright and won the heat while Luedi went down.

In the final, Thompson and Serwa got out front early and weren't challenged too much from behind, as Serwa fended off bronze medallist Anna Holmlund of Sweden, and French legend Ophelie David fell and was left out of medal contention.

At the World Cup test event in Sochi last winter, Serwa took gold and Thompson collected silver. They swapped spots on the podium Friday.

"I'm so glad that I get to share a podium with Kelsey," Thompson told the Canadian Press. "Just starting in the final, it was really great to know that my teammate was beside me and either way (one of us would) be on the podium for Canada."

West Vancouver's Georgia Simmerling was knocked out in the quarter-finals.

In the men's event held Thursday (Feb. 20), Whistler's Dave Duncan was eliminated in the first round of race heats, as was Canadian teammate Chris Del Bosco. Calgary's Brady Leman made it all the way to the men's final, but fell before the finish and placed fourth behind a French sweep of the podium.

Canadian and Slovenian team officials disputed the results of the race, citing illegal modifications to the French team's pants to make them more aerodynamic, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed the complaint.

Janyk 16th in last Olympic race

Whistler's Mike Janyk posted a 16th-place finish in the Olympic men's slalom on Saturday (Feb. 22), then promptly announced that he had skied in the Winter Games for the last time.

"This will be my last Games," Janyk said in a quote released by Alpine Canada right after the race. "I knew that going in and that emotion was special, and also a challenge to deal with. Everything, but the result, was everything I thought a Games could be."

Janyk sat 22nd after the opening run on Saturday, and survived a tricky second-run course to move up to 16th place. It's his second-best result at an Olympics - his best being a 13th-place result at his home Games in 2010 - and also his second-best result of the season.

Canada's Phil Brown finished 20th, while Trevor Philp and Brad Spence were early victims of the second-run set, with Philp unable to finish and Spence being disqualified.

Austrians Mario Matt and Marcel Hirscher provided a one-two finish, while 19-year-old Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen took bronze. He became the second teenager in two days to step on a slalom podium, as 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin won the women's race on Friday, skiing a second-run course set by Whistler's Jim Pollock.

Whistler's Morgan Pridy, who had great results in super combined and super-G to start his Olympics, ended his Games with a 33rd-place finish in the men's giant slalom held Wednesday (Feb. 19).

With the Games now closed, the Canadian teams will return to their World Cup seasons. Thompson and the ski cross team compete at Arosa, Switzerland, on March 6 and 7; Pridy and the men's alpine speed team begin a set of races on Friday (Feb. 28) at Kvitfjell, Norway; and Janyk has one slalom remaining on March 9 at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, before the World Cup finals.

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