Alpine Canada began celebrating 100 years of rich tradition in competitive skiing this winter. The 2019-20 World Cup season was one for the books and we can’t wait to get back on the slopes next season. Read about the highlights of the ski cross, para-alpine and alpine team’s seasons below:
Alpine season kick off
The season kicked off on a high note as Erik Read (Canmore, AB) conquered the Sölden, Austria giant slalom with a career best 7th place.
On the North American leg of the alpine ski season, Roni Remme (Collingwood, ON) heated things up in Killington, VT with a 7th place finish in slalom. That same day at Lake Louise, AB, Brodie Seger (North Vancouver, BC) made a strong attack starting in 57 and fighting his way into 16th in the super G, a career best for the youngster.
While the men’s tour moved south of the border to Beaver Creek, CO, the women made their way to Lake Louise. On home snow, Marie-Michèle Gagnon (Lac-Etchemin, QC) battled through tough weather to a 19th place finish in the super G. On the men’s side, Brodie Seger was poised to maintain his strong start to the season. He attacked the Birds of Prey course to secure a stellar 13th place in the downhill, while Trevor Philp (Calgary, AB) stepped up to 7th place in the giant slalom, both of them achieving career best results in their respective disciplines.
Canadian Cross Alps Tour Domination
In early December, the Canadian Ski Cross Team kicked off the World Cup season with the grueling Cross Alps Tour. The Tour saw the team compete in six races, at four venues over two weeks. Through Val Thorens, FRA, Montafon, AUT, Arosa, SUI and Innichen, ITA the team stood on the podium 14 times. As part of the Tour, Courtney Hoffos (Winderemere, BC) stood out by claiming her first World Cup podium, followed by two consecutive podium results. Kris Mahler (Canmore, AB), who was making his comeback from injury, didn’t wait to showcase his talent, winning his first career World Cup in Val Thorens and then followed it up with a 2nd place in Montafon, AUT.
Kevin Drury, who would go on to win the Cross Alps Tour overall title and three races, while 2014 Olympic gold medalist Marielle Thompson (Whistler, BC) captured two victories and a 2nd place result.
Other podium performances during the Tour came from India Sherret (Cranbrook, BC) who came 3rd in Val Thorens, FRA, Brady Leman (Calgary, AB) who came 3rd in Montafon, and Britt Phelan (Mont Tremblant, QC) who came in 3rd in Innichen, ITA.
A December to Remember
As the Canadian Ski Cross Team was collecting medals across the Alps, the alpine team dove into the middle of their season with more notable performances and career bests.
In a rare parallel slalom event, Laurence St-Germain (St. Ferréol-les-Neiges, QC) had a career best, 5th place finish in St. Moritz, SUI.
Over in Val Gardena, ITA Jack Crawford (Toronto, ON) secured a career best 17th place finish in the super-G.
After a short break over the Christmas holidays, men’s team veteran Ben Thomsen (Invermere, BC) overcame high winds and tough conditions for a season best 12th place finish in the Bormio, ITA downhill.
To close out 2019, the women’s team headed over the Lienz, AUT where St-Germain and team veteran Erin Mielzynski (Collingwood, ON) both skied two consistent slalom runs to finish 9th and 12th respectively.
Para-Alpine hits the ground running
After a late start to the season, the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team (CPAST) was eager to kick off its World Cup season in Veysonnaz, SUI. Over the five-day race block, the team stood on the podium 14 times including four podium results achieved on the same day. This milestone represented the first time since 2016 that Canada stood on the podium in every category on the men’s side of competition.
The team headed to Kranjska Gora, SLO where team members continued to dominate the competition with eight podiums in three races. This included Mac Marcoux who showed pure domination in the men’s Visually Impaired category, earning his eight straight wins in January.
Although the team’s season was cut short, para-alpine athletes and coaches returned to Canada with a proud feeling of having seized every opportunity, having captured 27 medals including 12 first place finishes. Standing on the World Cup podium this season for the Para-Alpine Ski Team were Mollie Jepsen (West Vancouver, BC), Mac Marcoux (Sault Saint Marie, ON) with guide Tristan Rodgers (Ottawa, ON), Kurt Oatway (Calgary, AB) and Alexis Guimond (Gatineau, QC).
Canadian Ski Cross brings it home
January brought with it the coldest weather of the year in Alberta, just in time for the Canadian Ski Cross Team to return to Canada for some racing on home soil. In preparing for the Nakiska World Cup, athletes headed to Canyon Ski Resort in Red Deer, AB for two NorAm Cup races including one which also served as the Canadian National Championships.
Thompson finished in first to claim her seventh Canadian National Championship while Phelan finished 2nd and Hoffos 3rd. On the men’s side, Reece Howden (Cultus Lake, BC) claimed his first National Championship, joined on the podium by team veterans Brady Leman (Calgary, AB) in 2nd and Drury in 3rd.
The races in Red Deer proved to be the perfect prep for what was to follow, Canada’s only stop on the Ski Cross World Cup Tour at Nakiska, AB. Still fresh from his National title, Howden took home his first World Cup victory after winning every single heat of the day at the 2020 Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup in Nakiska, AB. With a 2nd place finish at Nakiska, Drury also got to show the home crowd what he’d been up to on the circuit.
“This first home win feels amazing,” said an ecstatic Howden after the win. “It didn’t sink in until the last feature that I was en route to a win! This is huge.”
On the women’s side, Britt Phelan took advantage of a home snow advantage to finish 2nd, good for her second podium of the season.
Alpine is back at it in classic fashion
Starting the year strong the Canadian Alpine Ski Team was ready to rock with the women in Zagreb, CRO for a tech series. St-Germain and Amelia Smart (Invermere, BC) finished 11th and 17th respectively in the slalom.The race was a personal best finish for Smart who has raced only a handful of World Cups in her young career. “My game plan was to ski like I know I can ski and just push it.”
Over in Adelboden, SUI Erik Read attacked the slalom from the back starting in 50th and managing to wrap up the day in 11th place with the fourth fastest second run of the day and only .66 back of the leader.
The first women’s alpine combined event was cancelled due to weather. This left Remme eager to get to Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, AUT to aim to repeat her 2nd place finish in the discipline in Crans-Montana last season. Remme, who started in 13th spot, was able to put together two clean runs to finish the day in 12th.
In Flachau, AUT, St-Germain, Mielzynski and Ali Nullmeyer (Toronto, ON) each put it all on the line during the night time slalom event to finish in 10th, 15th and 16th. The 16th place finish was a personal best for Nullmeyer and is something she has been working towards since suffering a debilitating injury in Oct. 2017. “I’m really happy with how this season went! I’m really excited to take this momentum into next year and want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped me reach my goals so far,” said Nullmeyer.
From the land of roses, Marie-Michèle Gagnon charged to a career best 13th place finish in the downhill in Bansko, BUL. “It’s nice to get a good result, it was a tough start to the season, so this one felt really good."
The prime of winter was highlighted by a series of classic alpine races on the men’s tour in Wengen, SUI, Kitzbuehel, AUT and Garmisch, GER. The Canadian men showed up to race, with Cam Alexander (North Vancouver, BC) stringing together three great races finishing in 19th in Wengen, followed by two 27th place finishes. His 19th place finish in the Wengen downhill represented his career best result as well as his first World Cup points ever. “It felt really good to grab my first World Cup points. It was definitely a real confidence boost going into the rest of the season,” said Alexander. The BC racer would go on to finish the season with yet a new career best 10th place finish in the downhill at Kvitfjell, NOR, just 1.19 seconds back of the winner.
Marcoux leads the way to career milestones
On the para-alpine team, Marcoux was dominant by winning every World Cup race he entered this season. This included hitting a significant career milestone in Kranjska Gora, SLO. Together with Guide Rodgers, Marcoux was able to stand on the top of his 50th career World Cup podium. “I’ve never really been one to count results, but it is a really cool milestone,” said Marcoux. “This had me looking back on so many good times over the past seven years!”
The beginning of March also marked two big moments for men of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team with Thomsen celebrating his 10th year on the World Cup tour and teammate Dustin Cook (Ottawa, ON) announcing his retirement at the end of the season. “I am very proud of the things I have accomplished over my career,” reflected Cook. “I accomplished things I can honestly say I did not think were possible for a kid growing up in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.”
All good things must come to an end but before the season could finish, the Canadian Ski Cross Team had some more top World Cup results to achieve in Scandinavia. While Leman raced to a 5th place finish at Nakiska, he was hungry for a podium finish which he achieved with a 2nd place in Idre Fjall, SWE. There, Britt Phelan also stepped on the podium with a solid 3rd place result.
After Sweden, the Canadian Ski Cross Team kept the winning streak alive in Megève, FRA as Marielle Thompson and Kevin Drury stood on top of the podium. With this victory, Drury secured the season’s coveted crystal globe and became the first Canadian male ski cross racer to earn this prestigious prize.
Over in Sunny Valley, RUS, Drury continued his dominance with a 2nd place result which also meant Canada stood on the ski cross podium at every World Cup this season.
Back home, the Para-Alpine team was competing in the 2020 Canadian Para-Alpine National Championships at Kimberley Alpine Resort in Kimberley, BC. Marcoux with Guide Rodgers, Guimond, and Oatway each defended their national titles from 2019 including Marcoux/Rodgers and Guimond winning both the downhill and super G.
“Being national champ for me means a lot,” told Guimond. “As a kid, I always wanted to be in that position and for many years I’ve defended the title in the standing category, especially in speed.”
As the season was winding down for the Alpine team was back in Europe. Remme and Crawford were determined to finish on a high note. While Remme charged the Crans Montana, SUI World Cup alpine combined to a 7th place finish, Crawford clocked the 12th fastest time of the day in the Hinterstoder, AUT super G to wrap his most successful World Cup season to date. “I got a little bit lucky with the bib draw and managed to put in a good run.” said Crawford.
A bittersweet end to the race season
Although the season ended abruptly and under tense circumstances, Canada was happy to see all its athletes and coaches return home healthy and safe. An added bonus for the Canadian Ski Cross Team was winning the Nations’ Cup title, a Crystal Globe for Kevin Drury and a Rookie of the Year award for Courtney Hoffos. The team, who was described as “unbeatable” by FIS, had 24 World Cup podium finishes by eight different team members.
The Para-Alpine team also celebrated Mac Marcoux’s overall GS title, which was especially impressive given his return to racing following a full season off while recovering from a back injury.
“As we close the book on another exciting season of racing, we wish to thank all our fans and supporters for your relentless encouragement,” said Vania Grandi, Alpine Canada President & CEO “Our organization is grateful for the tremendous resilience and unity of our ski community, all Canadians, and our ski friends around the globe as we collectively face the new realities that have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. We very much look forward to a safe, healthy, and successful season next winter.”
The ski racing community is incredibly strong and must come together now to ensure that we are making the right decisions for not only our own health, but our health care system and vulnerable populations. As we look ahead to next year, and all the preparations that are required to make it successful, we must protect our tomorrow.
World Cup Rankings
(As of April 1, 2020)
Ski Cross Men's
|Chris Del Bosco||20|
Ski Cross Women's
|Mac Marcoux (Guide: Tristan Rodgers) -
Men's Visually Impaired
|Alexis Guimond - Men's Standing||-||2||8|
|Kurt Oatway - Men's Seated||-||6||5|
|Frédérique Turgeon – Women’s Standing||6||-||6|
|Mel Pemble - Women's Standing||-||8||9|
|Mollie Jepsen - Women's Standing||-||4||2|