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Marielle Thompson wins silver, helps Canada clinch Nations Cup

Team Canada has now clinched 10 of the 16 ski cross Nations Cups in FIS history
Marielle Thompson (back row, third from left) and her fellow Canadian ski cross racers pose for the camera after the 2023 World Cup final and the last career race of Olympic champion Brady Leman.

Marielle Thompson wrapped up her season with another silver medal on March 18 at the FIS World Cup finale, helping Canada take home a world-leading 10th ski cross Nations Cup. This is the Maple Leaf's second Nations Cup triumph in a row and its sixth in eight seasons.

2018 Olympic silver medallist Brittany Phelan earned bronze in her first race in a year as French athlete Marielle Berger Sabbatel emerged on top. 

“I wanted to top what I did [on Friday], and I did that so I’m pretty happy,” said Thompson in a press release. “I think that I could’ve done a little more today, but I’m happy to share the podium with Britt. She’s had such a long comeback from injury, I’m super proud of her.”

“I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out,” said Phelan, who represents Mont-Tremblant, Que. “It’s been a tough couple of days getting used to the bigger, faster track, so today I just wanted to ski the way I normally do. I tried to make good turns and to be patient, it and worked out pretty well.”

Thus ends an excellent campaign for Thompson, who in late February helped teammate and incumbent Crystal Globe winner Reece Howden win the first mixed team ski cross silver medal in World Cup history. 

Golden goodbye

Meanwhile, it was a storybook ending for Brady Leman of Calgary, Alta. The 2018 Olympic ski cross king put an exclamation mark on his illustrious 15-year career with one final victory in Collingwood, Ont. Leman, who is retiring at the end of this season, stood on the podium alongside Youri Duplessis Kergomard of France and Swiss contender Joos Berry. 

This is the Calgarian's 32nd podium and his sixth career gold medal, with four of them coming on Canadian snow. 

“I’m so pumped! This is the best way to go out,” said Leman, who consistently executed fast starts and brave passes to win his last medal. “I just wanted to leave it all out there today. It was a fight every round, and I battled hard the whole day. Got a little lucky in the finals, but I got to put an exclamation on an amazing career. I love racing, I’ve always loved racing!”

“Today was crazy emotional,” added the three-time Olympian. “There were some tears this morning and lots of emotion, but I tried to keep my focus. I’m just so happy to have my family and friends here, and to be with my teammates.”

“Today so captures what Brady is about,” added Canadian ski cross head coach Stanley Hayer. “He’s always found a way to deliver in big races. I think that’s what he’ll leave with this program. That it doesn’t come easy, but if you keep battling and keep pushing, good things will happen.”

Results roundup

Three other Canadian women finished in the top 10, with Prince George's Tiana Gairns in sixth, Courtney Hoffos of Windermere in seventh and Abby McEwen of Edmonton, Alta. ending up ninth. 

On the men's side, Jared Schmidt from Ottawa, Ont. found himself in 13th, while Kevin Drury of Toronto, Ont., Edmontonian Carson Cook and Prince George's Gavin Rowell all tied for 17th. 

Canada led the ski cross World Cup standings for most of this season. The Nations Cup was first presented for ski cross in 2008, with Canada winning the honour in 10 of the subsequent 16 years.

“This is a very special group,” said Hayer. “Reece and Marielle have obviously been outstanding, but this has really been a team effort with everyone contributing this season. And it’s really great for us to send Brady out with a team win, a great representation of what he’s given to our sport and our country.”