AUDI FIS SKI CROSS WORLD CUP SEASON KICK-OFF

AUDI FIS SKI CROSS WORLD CUP SEASON KICK-OFF

Photo Caption GEPA

Calgary, Alta. (December 12, 2018) –  Canada’s Ski Cross Team will open the 2018-19 season on Monday, Dec. 17, at a night event in Arosa, Switzerland.

The first stop on the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup circuit had to be rescheduled due to a lack of snow and overall weather conditions which forced the cancellation of the races at Val Thorens and Montafon. New dates and venues for those events are set to be announced shortly.

The Canadian men’s and women’s ski cross teams are building off of productive training camps over the summer and fall, and the athletes are ready to make their mark for Canada in this post-Olympic season. 

LADIES: 

A World Champion, World Junior Champion, Vice World Champion, three-time Crystal Globe winner, and the 2014 Olympic gold-medallist, Marielle Thompson, 26, is undisputedly one of the most successful ski cross athletes in the world. With wins at the Austrian National Championship and on the Europa Cup circuit in late November, Thompson is returning to the top of her game. An early-season knee injury in the 2017-18 season brought into question whether she would be able to be in PyeongChang to defend her Olympic title. She was able to make the trip, but was denied a medal following a crash in her first heat. Intent on regaining her former dominance in the sport, Thompson took the summer to rebound in preparation for this 2018-19 season.

Silver-medallist in PyeongChang, Brittany Phelan, 27, made the switch to ski cross in 2015 and finished last season as the highest-ranked Canadian, finishing third overall on the World Cup ski cross circuit. Canada will always remember the sight of Phelan on the same podium as Olympic champion, close friend and fellow Canadian, Kelsey Serwa. 

Serwa, 29, is one of Canada’s most decorated ski cross athletes, boasting Olympic gold and silver medals, an X-Games gold, and a World Champion title to her credit. While skiing is Serwa’s main passion, she remarkably also focused on her studies while being a full-time athlete. Serwa will start her season in Arosa next week. 

India Sherret , 22, made her first World Cup starts two years ago and went on to claim the overall Nor-Am Cup title in the 2016-17 season. Sherret’s first World Cup ski cross podium came in Idre Fjall, Sweden last season, where she finished third and qualified for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. By the time the season finished, Sherret had earned five more top-15 World Cup finishes, making her one of the ones to watch in 2018-19.

Surgery on Nov. 16, 2018 to repair a right shoulder subluxuation will keep Tiana Gairns, 20, out of the World Cup season opener. Gairns has shown remarkable results since being named as a prospect athlete to the team in 2015, including wining the Nor-Am Cup overall title in the 2017-18 season.

With over 15 Nor-Am Cup podiums since 2013, Abby McEwen, 22, had her first World Cup start last winter on home snow in Nakiska. With plenty of experience on the Nor-Am and Europa Cup circuits to back her, McEwen is ready to start in Arosa and compete against the best in the world. 

Mikayla Martin, 21, BC Alpine alumna, earned a Europa Cup podium and is a 2018 Junior World Champion. Martin is a prospect athlete to watch over this season.

MEN: 

The 2018 Olympic gold-medallist and men’s ski cross team leader, Brady Leman, 32,  is an international leader in the sport. Leman is the first Canadian male ski cross athlete to win an Olympic medal, in addition to his 22 World Cup podiums, gold and bronze X-Games medals, and two top-three overall season finishes in the last couple of years.In Arosa, Leman is looking for another World Cup podium, having captured silver there two years ago. 

Joining Leman is another strong performer, Kevin Drury, 30, who ranked third overall on the ski cross World Cup circuit last season. Drury,  the top Canadian male in 2017-18, earned three World Cup podium results and skied to a fourth-place finish at the Olympic Games in 2018. He continues to gain experience on the World Cup circuit which can only bode well for future results. 

The most decorated Canadian male ski cross athlete ever is team veteran, Chris Del Bosco, 36. Since 2009, he has amassed 26 World Cup podiums, was crowned World Champion in 2011, won two X-Games medals, battled through multiple injuries and always came back to score outstanding performances. Last season, Del Bosco participated in his third Olympic Games where he had a memorable, jaw-dropping crash and spent the remainder of the season recovering from his injuries. Del Bosco is back again this year, having started his season with a bronze medal at the Europa Cup on Nov. 25 in Pitztal, AUT. All eyes will be on him this season. 

Among the younger ski cross team members, Zach Belczyk, 22, represented Canada at the 2017 World Junior Championship and claimed silver, further confirming Canada as a leader in the sport. Last season, Belczyk had an impressive winter, finishing second overall in the Nor-Am Cup standings after hitting the podium five times and winning two races.

Reece Howden, 20, is a strong alpine speed skier who was named to the ski cross team two years ago. Howden stepped onto the World Cup circuit for the first time last season in Nakiska. Before that, Howden had earned himself multiple titles, including ski cross champion at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games and second place overall in the Nor-Am Cup standings in 2016-17.

Kevin MacDonald, 25, is one of the most decorated athletes on the Nor-Am Cup Ski Cross circuit, with 10 wins and 10 other top-three finishes.  Standing at a towering 6'5", MacDonald used his size, strength and power to claim the Nor-Am Cup Ski Cross overall title in 2014 and 2017. In the 2017-18 season, MacDonald had a season-best, eighth-place result on the World Cup circuit.

“After an unforgettable 2018 Olympics, the athletes are even more motivated to stay at the top of the World Cup rankings. We have had very solid training blocks in Sunshine, Whistler, La Parva, Sass fee, Pitztal and Reiteralm and the athletes are ready to test themselves at the first World Cup in Arosa. The World Cup schedule has been adjusted due to weather but the small break prior to the start of the World Cup season is just what the team needs to rest and reset for an intense three-race block prior to Christmas. The World Cup Team is looking great and with the addition of a strong ski-up group, our training sessions have been near race intensity. Kelsey has recently rejoined the team, fresh and eager, and has brought the energy of the team to another level.  Our ski techs have worked tirelessly to get equipment tested and ready and the athletes trust that they will have the fastest skis on the hill come race day. We are less than a week from the season kick off, the snow has finally started to fall in Europe, and we have a complete team of 12 amazing athletes. Now is the time for them to shine and I can’t wait to see what they can do once the gate drops.” – said Stanley Hayer, Ski Cross Head Coach.

SKI CROSS RULES:

In World Cup, each athlete needs to 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, and the second, third, and fourth-place finishers. 

Where: Arosa, Switzerland – Ladies & Men

Sunday, December 16, 2018 

Men’s qualification runs

5:30- 6:15 p.m. CET (Central European Time) /  11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. EST (Eastern Standard Time)

Ladies’ qualification runs

6:30 – 7:00 p.m. CET / 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. EST

Monday, December 17, 2018 

Ladies’ & Men’s Final Round

7:30- 8:30 p.m. CET / 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. EST

Athlete Entries

Marielle Thompson, Whistler (BC)

Brady Leman, Calgary (AB)

Kelsey Serwa, Kelowna (BC)

Kevin Drury, Toronto (ON)

Brittany Phelan, Mont-Tremblant (QC)

Chris Del Bosco, Vail (CO) / Montreal (QC)

India Sherret, Cranbrook (BC)

Zach Belczyk, Banff (AB)

Abby McEwen, Edmonton (AB)

Reece Howden, Cultus Lake (BC)

Mikayla Martin, Whistler (BC)

Kevin MacDonald, Mississauga (ON)

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Alpine Canada is the governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada, as well as for Canadian ski coaches, providing education, certification, insurance and compliance with the coaching code of conduct. With the support of valued corporate partners and donors, along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Coaching Association of Canada, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic, World Championship and World Cup athletes to stimulate visibility, inspiration and growth in the ski community. In 2020, Alpine Canada will celebrate 100 years of rich tradition in competitive skiing in Canada.

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