Ski-cross racer Marielle Thompson topped the podium in her return to FIS World Cup competition on Saturday, Dec. 5.
The 23-year-old Olympic champion was dominant last season until a knee injury halted her march toward a third Crystal Globe.
At a brand-new venue in Montafon, Austria, Thompson showed little rust, coming through as the top qualifier before powering past 2014 Olympic bronze medallist Anna Holmlund of Sweden to secure the victory. Austrian Katrin Ofner placed third.
Thompson explained she "can ski at full intensity again without injury being on (her) mind," a refreshing feeling after several months of rehab.
"I was definitely a little nervous going into the first heat, but I had prepared as much as I could have and knowing I was the fastest in qualifying put my mind at ease as well. Once I was on course it was like I hadn't missed a beat," Thompson explained via email.
The greatest test of the day came in the final, where Thompson's start paled in comparison to Holmlund's. However, Thompson seized a chance to pass the Swede and take the win.
"Anna had a really great start so I knew I had to stay close behind her and be patient until I got my chance to pass. The last two turns had a couple of different lines people had been running and I knew that if I changed my line up and skied it well I could gain ground and make a big pass," she explained.
The Whistlerite also praised the new Montafon venue, noting the enthusiasm of fans while enjoying the course's setup.
"The course was really well built and it seemed like everyone from the valley came together to support the race. The awards ceremony was one of the biggest turnouts ever for a World Cup," she recalled.
Thompson's strong showing capped an impressive day for Canadians, as Chris Del Bosco and Brady Leman took the top two spots on the men's side. Slovakian Filip Flisar, the reigning World Champion, took third.
For Del Bosco, the win was his first in nearly two years and, with Leman also hitting the podium, could serve notice that the Canuck men are back after a couple of tough seasons.
"It was pretty special," Del Bosco told the FIS website about scoring a podium with his teammate Leman, "Looking back and seeing Brady behind me and him knowing how much I've struggled last couple seasons, to see him stoked for me was pretty cool. It goes to show that we've put in all the work and we're firing."
The circuit will continue in Val Thorens, France with races on Dec. 11 and 12.
Bauer files claim against CFSA
Former aerials skier Veronika Bauer has filed claim against the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association (CFSA).
The 2001 world champion also named CFSA team doctor Jeffrey William Purkis of Surrey in the claim, which was filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Dec. 3.
Bauer, who had a history of concussions, claims she was medically cleared to return to the sport after a 2012 concussion when she should not have been. She subsequently suffered another concussion at a CFSA-operated ski camp in December 2013.
"As a consequence of the 2013 Concussion, the plaintiff suffered from severe and continuing concussion symptoms. The plaintiff remains unable to work as a consequence of her injuries and her ability to function in day to day life has been impaired," the statement of claim reads.
The statement further alleges that another CFSA doctor recommended that Bauer not return to action, but she was unaware of this opinion until after the 2013 brain injury.
Bauer is seeking general damages for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent physical disability, loss of earnings past and prospective, loss of income-earning capacity and loss of opportunity to earn income past and prospective, as well as special damages, future cost of care, loss of housekeeping care and costs, among others.
The CFSA issued a statement on Dec. 8 saying it was aware of the suit.
"In consultation with our legal team, we are currently reviewing this claim. Once we have gathered all the facts and the required information, we will determine next steps. The CFSA addresses any claims in a serious and timely matter. The health of our past and current athletes has always been, and will continue to be, our utmost priority," the statement said.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Whistler skiers shine at Teck Coast Cup
Nordic skiers young and old enjoyed the Teck Coast Cup #1 race at Whistler Olympic Park on Nov. 29.
Several Whistlerites even came away with some hardware at the race, hosted by Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club.
Whistler Nordics racers made their mark, as Luke Mackie placed first in the atom boys 0.6-kilometre race while Molly Mackie and Talia Wittenberg went one-two in the pee wee girls 1.5-kilometre race. Joe Davies was tops for his age and second overall in the juvenile boys four-kilometre contest and Mila Wittenberg was golden among juvenile girls covering the same distance.
Sea to Sky Nordics racer Bianca Ike, meanwhile, topped the atom girls 0.6-kilometre race, as did Tyson Ike in the pee wee boys 1.5-kilometre event. Meanwhile, Jordan Laker was second in the open men's 7.5-kilometre event, while Frances Vice was the champion of the same distance for the open women.
Complete results are online at www.zone4.ca.
WMSC racers star in Alberta
Katie Fleckenstein had herself quite a day in FIS racing action at Nakiska last week.
On Dec. 2, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club member posted a downhill victory in one race while taking a second place overall and posting the best U18 time in the other. Teammate Gabrielle Smith, meanwhile, took a bronze in one race while finishing just out of the medals in fourth in the other.
On Dec. 3 at Nakiska, Smith posted yet another top 10, scoring a 10th-place in the super-G.
The FIS scene shifted to Mount Norquay for the weekend.
On Dec. 5, Smith posted the only local top 10 of the women's race, taking seventh in the slalom. On the men's side, Whistler dominated the top 10 as senior skier Broderick Thompson was second, and U21s Brodie Seger, Riley Seger, Cameron Alexander and James Crawford were fourth, sixth, seventh and 10th, respectively.
On Dec. 6, Stefanie Fleckenstein hit the podium with a bronze in the slalom at Mount Norquay, as did Riley Seger on the men's side. Fellow Whistlerite Kole Harle hit the top 10 in the men's race, placing 10th.
Full results are online at www.live-timing.com.
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