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Marielle Thompson earns bronze in World Cup ski cross

Reece Howden of Cultus Lake wins gold on the men's side in Sweden

Marielle Thompson was not satisfied with her fifth-place result on Jan. 21 in Sweden. The following day, she grabbed bronze, the fourth podium of her World Cup season and eighth at Idre Fjäll. 

Reigning Olympic ski-cross queen Sandra Naeslund gave her compatriots something to cheer about on home soil by winning yet another race. The Swede's eyebrow-raising dominance continues: she hasn't lost an FIS race since March 11, 2022, when she placed fourth during a qualification run. Austrian Katrin Ofner earned silver.

“Feels good to be back on the podium,” said Thompson. “I had to redeem myself after yesterday’s fifth place. I knew I had better skiing in me and I’m happy to make the big final and to be on the podium. It was tough racing today. There was some wind and you really had to work every feature to find speed wherever possible.”

Tiana Gairns (Prince George, B.C.) won Sunday's women’s small final to claim fifth, improving on her seventh-place result from the day before. India Sherret (Cranbrook, B.C.) took 10th, Abby McEwen (Edmonton, Alta.) 11th, Hannah Schmidt (Ottawa, Ont.) 12th and Courtney Hoffos (Windermere, B.C.) was 15th. 

On the men's side, Reece Howden brought Canada to the top of the podium with his second victory of the season. The man they call "Big Rig" was indeed unstoppable on Sunday, winning all of his heats and leading the finals from start to finish. He hasn't missed the podium in five straight events. 

“It’s pretty sweet,” said Howden in a press release. “It’s been a lot of work and having to do five races a day is tough. Fortunately, right now I’m fast and I’m focusing mentally to control what I can, and to keep fighting to just send it! It seems to be working out for me and I want to keep it rolling.

“The team is skiing great, and I’m super stoked to see the whole team doing well.”

Erik Mobaerg of Sweden finished second behind Howden, and Tobias Mueller of Germany crossed the line in third. 

Five other Canadian men collected World Cup points in Sweden. Jared Schmidt (Ottawa, Ont.) raced to second in the small final to finish sixth. Kevin Drury (Toronto, Ont.) was 14th, Kris Mahler (Canmore, Alta.) 21st, Brady Leman (Calgary, Alta.) 25th and Carson Cook (Edmonton, Alta.) brought up the rear in 28th. 

Alpine skiing 

Valérie Grenier (St-Isidore, Ont.) led Canadian women at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup super-G race on Jan. 22 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Starting 33rd, Grenier had a strong bottom of the course to finish 22nd and secure some World Cup points. Stefanie Fleckenstein of Whistler placed 36th while Marie-Michèle Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que. missed a gate about halfway down the course.

The last day of World Cup action in Kitzbühel, Austria saw the men race slalom. With the best weather of the week, and in front of 35,000 fans, Erik Read (Canmore, Alta.) led the Canadians with a 22nd-place finish to score World Cup points. Jordan Asher (North Vancouver), Liam Wallace (Calgary, Alta.) and Simon Fournier (Montréal, Que.) also took to the course, but didn't finish their runs.

Read and his fellow alpine technicians are back in action Jan. 24 and 25 in Schladming, Austria, while Grenier and her teammates will spend those days in Kronplatz, Italy. 

Meanwhile, the ski cross teams will not race again until Feb. 16 and 17 in Reiteralm, Austria.