PyeongChang, KOR. (February 21, 2018) – After much anticipation, the ski cross competition kicked off for the men today at the Phoenix Park Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding Venue, and the Canadian men rose to the occasion! 31yr old Brady Leman (Calgary, AB) captured gold for Canada, while Kevin Drury (Toronto, ON) finished just off the podium in fourth, and Dave Duncan (London, ON) finished in eighth.
The Olympic ski cross course is big and fast, with new designs and features for this Olympic event. At the start, athletes begin with a two-meter free-fall off a one-of-a-kind start design, and then charge into the “wu tang” section before the first major feature of the course. Throughout the course, athletes navigated sequences of step-ups and step-downs, rollers, negative turns, banks and massive jumps that sent the athletes soaring through the air.
Prior to the race kicking off, each athlete put down a single run on the track, timed against the clock to determine their seeding in the heats to follow. In his first Olympic Games, 29yr old Kevin Drury (Toronto, ON) was the fastest Canadian, finishing in 3rd position in the seeding. In their second Olympic Games, 31yr old Brady Leman (Calgary, AB) finished in 8th, while 35yr old Dave Duncan finished in 26th. Three-time ski cross Olympian Chris Del Bosco took a big crash during his run and finished in 31st position.
In the 1/8 final, three of the Canadians advanced through to the quarterfinals, demonstrating fantastic skiing, grit and determination. Drury and Duncan both won their heats, with Leman battling to cross the line second. In a spectacular crash, Del Bosco caught an edge just before a feature, launching him into the air and landing hard on the track. Del Bosco was tended to by the medical team and was transported off the hill. At time of publishing, no update was available on Del Bosco’s condition.
In the quarterfinals, all three Canadians again advanced through to the semi-final rounds, taking ownership of their heats and sending previous 2014 Olympic podium winners home. Both Leman and Drury won their heats by significant margins, while Duncan lead his heat almost to the bottom before being overtaken and finishing second.
In the semi-finals, Leman charged out of the start gate, trailing behind Switzerland’s Marc Bischofberger before making a smooth pass to take the lead. Leman held off the competition, crossing the line in first and punching his ticket to the big final. In semi-final heat number two, Drury and Duncan battled it out, holding back at the start before making their moves. Duncan took the lead and held before falling back into fourth. Drury waited to make his move and took advantage of an opening, taking over the lead and holding through to the finish. With Drury crossing the line first, he booked his ticket to the big final with Leman. Duncan unfortunately could not find the runway to move into contention and was eliminated.
In the small final, Duncan held back in the pack, waiting to find his move in an incredibly tight heat. Duncan worked the course and fought to find a lane to pass, but unfortunately held onto fourth, ending his second Olympic Games with an eight-place result.
Two Canadians were in the big final, guaranteeing Canada with a podium finish. Leman and Drury were both going for gold and they did not disappoint. In an incredibly tight race, Leman held patient until he made the launch into first, holding throughout the course. Leman held his own, crossing the finish line in first and winning gold for Canada. Drury was in the mix as well, fighting for position and looking for a 1-2 finish. In dramatic fashion, Drury got tangled up with Sergey Ridzik (OAR), crashing and losing his ski. Ridzik was the least unscathed from the crash, getting up and cruising into bronze medal position.
Team Canada Quotes:
“This is an amazing day today, to have everything come together like that on race day at the Olympics is incredible and it takes a huge team behind me.”
“I had a huge crash in training here and I was pretty sore. I had to have my physio, massage therapist and doctors put me back together and it’s tough to charge through a section that you’ve had a heavy hit in.”
“I had to let go of everything and just race and turn the brain off a little bit during the race.”
“I was in the grove today and saw a bunch of openings and went for it.”
“I’m so happy for Brady, he skied so well today. I was hoping for this result when I came across the line in the big final.”
“I’m proud. I’m happy. I’m not even bummed yet, but no, I skied so well today and I have my family here, it’s just amazing.”
“I was the best version of myself today and I’m leaving here happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I was confident all week, relaxed and poised for something big here.”
“I gave it my all out there and left it all out there today.”
“Highly entertaining is the beauty of our sport. You can go from first to fourth and back to first just like that.”
Stanley Hayer – Head Coach, Canada Ski Cross:
“Every heat is a roller coaster as you saw. This course is all gravity, there’s not a lot of speed generation and our guys are really strong skiers.”
“Brady is one of the most focused guys out there. He’s learning how to refocus and be detailed orientated. He doesn’t give up that guy.”
Top 8 results:
Gold – Brady Leman (CAN)
Silver – Marc Bischofberger (SUI)
Bronze – Sergey Ridzik (OAR)
4 – Kevin Drury (CAN)
5 – Armin Niederer (SUI)
6 – Arnaud Bovolenta (FRA)
7 – Filip Flisar (SLO)
8 – Dave Duncan (CAN)
Canadian men’s ski cross results
1 – Brady Leman
4 – Kevin Drury
8 – Dave Duncan
31 – Chris Del Bosco
Full results here.
Next ski cross event will be the ladies competition – catch it live on Olympics.CBC.ca at 9:30pm EST.
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