Genting Snow Park de Zhangjiakou , China (February 19, 2022) – The world’s best ski cross athletes demonstrated why their sport is so electrifying and nail-biting as they competed head to head in several tightly contended heats at the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Canadian men raced with grit, putting on an amazing show in all their heats but landing shy of the big final for a chance at highly prized medals.
Team Canada placed four skiers in the top 12, again showing the depth of the program. Brady Leman, 35 years old from Calgary, AB, led the pack with a 6th place finish.
Poised to defend his 2018 Olympic title, Leman skied solid eights and quarter final heats but missed the cut for the semis. He finished 2nd in the small final.
“I’m tired, relieved, proud of how I skied, but for sure I’m disappointed as well – there’s just a lot of emotions right now,” Leman shared after his race. “I struggled with the start all week and couldn’t find the rhythm. I knew I was fast at the bottom but, I never managed to ski the start effectively like I did in November,” explains the skier who was hoping to capitalize on his 2nd place result in the test event held on the same track two months ago, marking his 29th career World Cup podium. “I am immensely proud of the obstacles I’ve overcome to be at these Games, I could not have done it without a ton of support and I am forever grateful for the people in my life who support me to chase my dreams.”
Making his Olympic debut, Canada’s Reece Howden, 23 years old from Cultus Lake, B.C. skied into 9th place. The 2021 World Cup Crystal globe winner raced a commanding first-eight heat but got stuck behind Leman in the quarter-final, getting bumped in 3rd in that heat which marked the end of his day.
Also competing in his maiden Olympics, Jared Schmidt, 24 years old from Ottawa, ON finished 10th overall. After skiing into 2nd place in his first heat, Schmidt made a slight mistake at the top of the course in his quarter final run, getting bumped into 3rd place which meant his race day was over.
“Today, I was feeling really good, and I think the whole team was too,” tells Schmidt who got his first taste of FIS World Cup competition in January 2019 and has since achieved two World Cup podiums in the last two seasons.
“Unfortunately, no medal, but that’s skiing. At the end of the day, it’s just skiing, and it’s pretty sweet to be a part.,” admits the skier who is building valuable experience as he looks to compete in his first World Championships next season.
“Overall, the whole experience of the Olympics was super cool and to have three Schmidt’s compete at Olympics in 12 months is extra special,” concludes Schmidt whose older sister, Hannah, skied to 7th place in the women’s Olympic ski cross race held yesterday, and whose cousin, Madeline, competed in sprint kayak for Canada at Tokyo 2020.
Two-time Olympian, Kevin Drury, 33 years old from Toronto, ON, rounded out the Canadian roster with a 12th place finish.
“The build-up to today’s race was challenging for me, especially as I struggled with the course all week,” admits Drury. “Nevertheless, I’m really happy with how I skied, with some of the passes I made and how competitive I was. I’m walking away with my head held high,” concludes the skier who placed 4th at the PyeongChang Olympics four years ago and the first Canadian man to win the ski cross Crystal globe back in 2019.
Switzerland’s Ryan Regez was crowned the 2022 Olympic gold medalist following a commanding final run, holding on to the lead from top to bottom. He was followed by teammate Alex Fiva who came in 2nd and the ROC’s Sergey Ridzik who rounded out the men’s ski cross Olympic podium with a bronze medal performance. Erik Mobaerg of Sweden had to settle for 4th place.
This concludes the Olympic journey at Beijing for ski cross athletes. Canadian athletes will resume racing on the World Cup circuit.
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About Alpine Canada
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 2020/21, Alpine Canada celebrated 100 years of rich tradition in competitive skiing in Canada.