Thompson still driven after Olympic gold 

Ski-cross racer still has items to cross off her list

click to enlarge GUNNING FOR MORE GOLD After winning Olympic gold in February, ski-cross racer Marielle Thompson is looking to add more hardware to her mantle in 2014-15.
  • GUNNING FOR MORE GOLD After winning Olympic gold in February, ski-cross racer Marielle Thompson is looking to add more hardware to her mantle in 2014-15.

Winning Olympic gold tops nearly every athlete's bucket list.

Ski-cross racer Marielle Thompson was able to boldly strike that off of hers in February, edging out fellow Canadian Kelsey Serwa to become a champion in Sochi, Russia.

So when you've been there and done that, what pushes you forward?

At just 22, Thompson still has time to rack up plenty more hardware before looking to defend her title in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. She said she has some short-term goals to accomplish along the way as the Olympic quadrennial opens up.

"Four years is a long time, and I've got things that I want to do before that all comes about," she said in a phone interview last week. "I'll figure out this season right now, and I'll get to that when it gets there."

On the schedule for this season, in addition to the FIS World Cup, is the World Championships. Looking ahead a little bit, Thompson is excited for the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, CO, an event in which she's traditionally struggled.

Though brimming with confidence, Thompson is trying to take a reserved approach to the campaign.

"I'm basically trying to approach this season how I have every other one," Thompson said. "My training has been going really well going into it, I'm feeling really confident and fast on my skis.

"I'm trying to build off the momentum from last year."

Propelled by her Olympic glory, Thompson was able to power forward, later capturing the Canadian championship and coming from behind in the final FIS Ski Cross World Cup race of the year. In that event, she defeated Switzerland's Fanny Smith and won the overall title for the second time.

Thompson took a few beats to respond when reflecting on her 2013-14 season.

"It was kind of hard to believe, and it still is, that it all happened," she recalled. "I had the season that I was hoping for, with the Olympics and the second Crystal Globe (as World Cup champion). It was everything that I set myself out to do, so it's amazing to me that it all worked out in my favour with all the hard work that I put into it.

"The Olympics was amazing, one of the happiest days ever for me, but then I had to set my mind into racing after that."

She acknowledged there was a bit of a lull in the season after the Olympics, as she stayed overseas instead of returning home in order to fend off jet lag.

"That first race back, I had to remember why I was doing it and get that intensity back up," she said. "I had a lot of action after the Olympics and it was like a whole other world."

Thompson took only a brief spring break, heading back into the gym at the start of June to prepare for the upcoming season, working five days a week. This summer, she had camps on the local glacier and also spent some time working on snow in Switzerland. The 2014-15 World Cup slate begins Dec. 6 at Nakiska Mountain Resort in Kananaskis, Alta.

"It was really good preparation going into the World Cup that's coming up in a few weeks," she said.

Thompson stressed though she's on top now, she's looking to maintain that position by finding areas of her approach she's able to tweak.

"I think my skiing can always improve. It has been improving significantly every year, so I've been trying to keep that going," she said. "I'm always thinking about the aerodynamics and trying to make sure I'm pulling quick starts."

With the high quality of the Canadian team, Thompson said practices keep her in a race mindset.

"We can race each other and it's going to be a high-quality environment, because generally, we're the fastest team on the World Cup," she said. "I'm always able to chase the track boys on our team.

"I'm always chasing them, and they're so fast."



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