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‘I’m certainly not done yet’

Marielle Thompson reflects on her record-tying fourth Crystal Globe

Whistler’s queen of ski cross has again reclaimed her throne. 

Marielle Thompson caught fire during the second half of the 2023-24 campaign, with seven podium finishes (including three consecutive wins in Alleghe, Italy and Bakuriani, Georgia) since the dawn of the new year. One more breakthrough at the season finale in Idre Fjäll, Sweden cemented her fourth Crystal Globe. 

Thompson is now tied for first all-time in ski cross season championships, having previously achieved the distinction in 2012, 2014 and 2017. Her phenomenal career also encompasses 31 World Cup triumphs, 67 podiums, Olympic gold from Sochi 2014, the 2019 World Championship and Olympic silver from Beijing 2022. 

“I'm super proud of everything I've been able to achieve, and it's certainly been a roller-coaster,” said Thompson. “Each of these accomplishments has a very different story behind it. I'm proud of everything I've done and I'm certainly not done yet.” 

Added fellow Sea to Sky national teamer Tiana Gairns: “Marielle is someone that I've looked up to for my whole ski-cross career, and to see her win another Crystal Globe sparks that feeling inside of overwhelming pride. I can't really explain how proud I am of her … but it is not easy to win one Crystal Globe, let alone multiple. For her to do it again after a few seasons, it just goes to show how resilient she is.” 

A grounding presence 

Perhaps the story of this particular Crystal Globe could be titled “Resilience.” 

Thompson dealt with a few nagging injuries late last year. While they weren’t enough to keep her sidelined for long, they did slow her down a tad—which against elite competition can make all the difference. December was especially frustrating, as her results did not line up with the calibre of practice and preparation she felt she was undergoing.

The Whistlerite returned home for Christmas at that point, spending quality time with family and friends. She got up the mountain just for fun, without medals on the line. Then she put her nose back to the grindstone. 

Gairns knew her old friend wouldn’t stay down for long. 

“No doubt at all,” she said. “Every time I see a race that Marielle is in, I know there's a chance that she's going to be winning it—and I can't say that about a lot of other people. She doesn’t let doubt get in the way at all. 

“Marielle is the athlete who always shows up, is there to do the work, is calm, cool and collected. She’s such a grounding presence and that shows up in her skiing, too. You watch her ski and she just has everything dialed. She knows exactly where she wants to go. She knows exactly what she's going to do.” 

The turning point came Jan. 28 in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where Thompson bested two-time Olympic bronze medallist Fanny Smith and teammate Hannah Schmidt for victory. It was her first World Cup gold since 2021 in Arosa—if you can believe that. 

“That course in St. Moritz really felt like it suited my skiing style and it was a lot of fun to race as well,” Thompson said. “There were lots of back-and-forth, tight heats. [Winning there] kind of propelled me for the rest of the season.” 

Comeback complete 

Idre Fjäll presented its own challenges. 

Thompson crashed hard in qualifying—hard enough to make her fear her season was done. Fortunately a squad of physiotherapists, coaches and massage therapists helped her recover from what turned out to be a not-so-debilitating ailment, and she was in the starting gate the following day. She didn’t feel perfect by any means, but she felt good enough. 

The Whistlerite ended up fifth in her opening finals race. That result, unsatisfying as it may have initially been, was a reminder to fine-tune details the next day: how to navigate every turn and hit the right marks on every jump. The overall ranking was far from her mind, as were her opponents and what they’d pulled off. It was all about her own process. 

On March 23, Thompson wrapped up the season on top over France’s Marielle Berger Sabbatel and compatriot Brittany Phelan. 

“I think [the Crystal Globe] shows that all of my hard work has paid off,” Thompson said. “The team behind me really kept me going and put me back together when necessary, so I think it’s the culmination of a tough but strong season.” 

The three-time Olympian hopes for everyone to return healthy this winter. She wasn’t the only one banged up: Gairns missed all but the final three World Cup races, while Courtney Hoffos from Windermere, B.C. hasn’t seen action since October 2023. 

“We had a tough season with a lot of people getting injured, so I'm looking forward to the upcoming year where everyone's back and in good form,” Thompson said. “Then we can have a full field of women that are excited and strong and ready to race. It's most fun for us when we can race against the best of the best.”