It's been an outstanding day for B.C. ski cross athletes at the FIS World Cup Finals in Collingwood, Ont.
Whistler's Marielle Thompson raced to the sixth World Cup podium finish of her season, while Reece Howden of Cultus Lake won both his event and the Crystal Globe season title. Courtney Hoffos from Windermere earned silver, placing just ahead of Thompson for her sixth career podium result and her personal best on home soil.
Two-time Olympic medallist Fanny Smith of Switzerland emerged on top among women, ably holding off Hoffos and Thompson in the big final.
Yet the day's biggest winner is Howden, who is taking home a second Crystal Globe after first achieving the feat in 2021. The man known affectionately as "Big Rig" notched his third victory of the season and the ninth of his 41-race career on the World Cup circuit.
“It’s pretty huge to win in Canada and to secure the Globe on home soil," said Howden in a press release. “This was a pretty stressful race, because it was important to secure the Globe today so that I can really enjoy tomorrow’s race. There are so many aspects to ski cross: your equipment, your mental state, and just staying healthy from crashes. I’ve been pretty fortunate with everything coming together this season.”
With the race being pushed earlier in the day, and then the earlier start being delayed due to weather concerns, Howden charged bravely from beginning to end and prevailed in all four of his heats.
“In the finals, I knew that I needed to have a start that really mattered, that I really needed to bring it,” added the Cultus Lake native. “I was able to battle my way into first, and from there, I focused on my own skiing and not making any mistakes. It was a little stressful this week, but to be able to race and win under pressure means a lot, and it’s sick to be back home in front of the home crowd!”
The other men on track today were Carson Cook of Edmonton, Alta. in 11th; Kevin Drury from Toronto, Ont. in 14th; Jared Schmidt of Ottawa, Ont. in 19th; Zach Belczyk from Banff, Alta. in 24th; and Prince George's Gavin Rowell ending up 29th.
Canadian women took six of the top 10 positions, with Ottawa's Hannah Schmidt in fourth, India Sherret from Cranbrook in seventh, Calgarian Antoinette Tansley with a career-best ninth in her return from injury, and Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que. rounding out the top 10. Edmonton's Abby McEwen wound up 12th, and Prince George's Tiana Gairns was 13th.
Heading into tomorrow’s World Cup Finals event at the Craigleith Ski Club, Canada is positioned to capture its world-leading 10th Nations Cup as the top ski cross country on planet Earth.