The action-packed and adrenaline-fueled sport made its Olympic debut as a medal sport at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver-Whistler. Prior to the Olympics, ski cross had already established itself as a hugely popular TV sport thanks to events such as the X-Games.
While Ski Cross is still young, Canada has a rich history of success in the sport. Since 2009, Canada has been viewed as one of the strongest Ski Cross nations in the world, racking up 137 World Cup medals, 6 World Championship Medals, 15 X-Games Medals and 3 Olympics medals.
Ski cross courses have both naturally occurring terrain and artificial features. Course building is a type of art and always keeps the athletes on their toes. World Cup courses typically feature a combination of big jumps, small jumps, rollers and bank turns. In 2015 FIS also introduced a sprint race format, which is a short course offering multiple jump/roller lines for athletes to choose from.
Aside from the course, what sets ski cross apart from other sports, including alpine skiing, is the fact that there’s more than one skier racing down the course. Four to six racers go head to head, at the same time, with the aim of finishing first.
The unique combination of technically-challenging terrain and head to head racing make ski cross a thrilling spectator sport.
In World Cup, World Championship and Olympic races, athletes complete a qualification round that is run as a time trial, with racers skiing the course solo. Based on their qualification time, athletes are placed into brackets for heat racing. In heats, four athletes race head to head down the course, with the top two from each heat advancing to the next round. Finals consist of a small final, with athletes competing for places 5 to 8 and a big final which determines the winner of the race, following by 2nd, 3rd & 4th. At the Winter X Games – one of the sport’s biggest events – six skiers compete head to head instead of four.
Canada has some of the sport’s biggest stars. Veteran Chris Del Bosco has been a dominant and consistent performer at the highest level since 2009. To his name, Delbosco has 24 World Cup podiums, a World Championship title from 2011 and 5 X-Games medals. Marielle Thompson is the reigning ski cross Olympic Champion from 2014 and by the end of the 2015-16 season, Thompson has 23 podium finishes throughout her career. In 2012, Thompson made history by becoming the first Canadian to bring home an individual World Cup Crystal Globe in ski cross; a title she claimed again in 2014. Kelsey Serwa, 2014 Olympic silver medalist, 2011 and 2015 X Games gold medalist and 2011 World Champion, has also established herself as one of the best in the world. Brady Leman, who finished the 2015-16 season ranked third overall in the world, was crowned X Games champion in 2016. Leman has claimed 15 World Cup medals since 2012. Canada's deep roster of talent has led to multiple Nations Cup titles, awarded to the team with the most World Cup points and the end of a single season.