Idre Fjall, SWE (Jan. 19, 2019) – Stepping onto the podium for the third time this season, Canada’s Marielle Thompson, 26, battled heavy wind and aggressive, dry snow to make it to the big final and earn silver in Idre Fjall, Sweden, on Saturday.
Thompson (Whistler, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club) passed eventual bronze-medallist Fanny Smith from Switzerland and Sweden’s Lisa Andersson in the final straightaway, but couldn’t catch race-winner Heidi Zacher of Germany.
This is Thompson’s 34th career-podium on the World Cup circuit.
“The conditions were pretty challenging with a lot of wind and aggressive, slow snow, so we had to make some adjustments,” said Thompson. “But I skied really well in every heat and managed to be patient in the final where I was fourth going into the final straightaway. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race and hopefully make an improvement on second.”
The course at Idre Fjalls, a favourite of Canada’s Britt Phelan, is known for having the biggest jumps on the circuit. The leader out of the start rarely wins at the finish because of passing upsets in the straightaway that Thompson leveraged. Wind also played a factor in the race and the qualifier, which impacted the men’s seeding and was postponed to race-day altogether for the women.
“The draft here in Idre Fjalls is quite big; once you’re behind the person breaking the wind in front you can be patient and wait for your moment to pass, because when you’re behind someone, you’re going really fast. It really showed today in every heat,” explained Thompson.
Phelan (Mont-Tremblant, Que./Mont-Tremblant Ski Club) and teammate Kelsey Serwa (Kelowna, B.C./Big White Ski Club) battled through to the semifinal runs where they each finished third to earn a spot in the small final. Phelan, 27, won the small final, good for fifth, while Serwa, 29, finished 7th.
“I’m really happy with my skiing today, technically and tactically,” said Phelan. “I got a bit unlucky in semis that resulted in me crashing, but I’m really happy to have won the small final and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
India Sherret (Cranbrook, B.C./Kimberley Alpine Team), Abby McEwen (Edmonton/Sunridge Ski Club) and Mikayla Martin (Squamish, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club) finished 11th, 13th and 20th respectively.
On the men’s side, the wind that forced the postponement of the ladies’ qualification to Saturday made for a tough battle for the men’s qualification. Only Chris Del Bosco (Montreal and Vail, Col./Ski and Snowboard Club Vail), Brady Leman (Calgary/Calgary Alpine Racing Club), and Toronto’s Kevin Drury competed in the eights, with none able to move forward. Del Bosco was the top Canadian, finishing 20th, while Leman and Drury landed in 22nd and 28th respectively. Zach Belczyk (Banff, Alta./Sunshine Ski Club ABSX) and Kevin MacDonald (Mississauga, Ont./Milton Heights Racing Club ABSX) were 37th and 41st.
The race is on again tomorrow for another World Cup event in Idre Fjall, for both men and women before returning home to compete in the World Cup circuit’s only Canadian stop next week at Blue Mountain Resort.
Canadians can support national team athletes such as Thompson and her teammates on ski cross, alpine, and para-alpine national teams by enjoying a day on the slopes themselves. Alpine Canada has partnered with the Canadian Ski Council, Snowboard Canada, and Freestyle Canada – as well as more than 100 Canadian ski resorts across the country – to deliver National Ski and Snowboard Day, Jan. 26-27, 2019. Proceeds from every ticket purchased at HitTheSlopes.ca go back into supporting Canada’s high-performance athletes in alpine, para-alpine, ski cross, freestyle, and snowboarding.
Celebrate today’s podium results by joining the Medallists’ Circle
For the 2018-19 ski racing season, Alpine Canada is inviting ski fans to join the Medallists’ Circle. Donors are invited to commit a pledge for each podium performance by an Alpine Canada athlete this season at World Cup and World Championship events. All funds raised through the Medallists’ Circle will provide Canada’s alpine, para-alpine, and ski cross athletes with the resources needed to reach for the podium. For further information, please visit AlpineCanada.org.
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