From left, Canada’s David Duncan, Sweden’s Erik Mobaerg, Switzerland’s Marc Bischofberger and Austria’s Robert Winkler compete during the men’s freestyle ski cross in Idre Fjall, Sweden, Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. (Pontus Lundahl/TT via AP)

Canada’s ski cross racers look to nail down Olympic berths on home snow

NAKISKA, Alta. — The battle for spots on Canada’s Olympic ski cross team culminates on home snow at Nakiska Ski Resort.

The final World Cup before the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is the last chance for athletes from Canada and other countries to book their Olympic berths.

Friday’s qualifying runs will be followed by Saturday’s head-to-head rounds at the resort west of Calgary.

“It’s basically the last opportunity for me to lock it down, lock down the Olympic spot instead of being in that position where I’m watching what others are doing,” Dave Duncan of London, Ont., said Thursday after training.

“Canadian freestyle is so deep that if you want to lock yourself in, you need podiums. If you don’t get podiums, you start watching what’s going on around you.”

Canada is guaranteed a minimum of five ski cross racers in Pyeongchang, but could have as many as eight — four per gender.

The ski cross team will be unveiled Monday in Calgary.

Canada is ocean deep in freestyle talent, but is limited to 30 Olympians across the five disciplines of ski cross, moguls, aerials, slopestyle and halfpipe.

So ski cross athletes on the bubble for Olympic berths are not only competing against their teammates for them, but also against moguls skiers and aerialists to go to Pyeongchang.

Defending Olympic women’s ski cross champion Marielle Thompson is a wild card for the women’s team. The 25-year-old from Whistler, B.C., has yet to race this season and won’t in Nakiska.

She ruptured ligaments in her knee while training and underwent surgery in October.

“I’ve been working hard with my rehabilitation, beginning in the gym and working my way towards getting back on snow,” Thompson said Thursday in an audio statement from Alpine Canada.

“My team and I have been taking the recovery process day by day, adjusting as necessary as my knee progresses.

“We are all very happy with my progress at this stage. I’m confident in my plan and at this point, there are no guarantees, but I hope to have a chance to compete at the Olympics.”

Canada has four other women ranked in the top 10 of the World Cup standings: Vancouver’s Georgia Simmerling (fourth), Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que. (sixth) Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C. (seventh) and India Sherret of Cranbrook B.C. (10th).

“For sure there’s a lot on the line,” said Serwa, who won an Olympic silver medal behind Thompson in 2014.

“You can sense it with all the races we’ve had this year. There’s a little bit more tension because people need to make certain criteria and of course that adds a little stress.

“Of course, there’s going to be stress at the Games too, so it’s good practice in that sense too being able to perform under pressure.”

Sherret, 21, earned her first career World Cup medal — a bronze — on Saturday in Idre Fjall, Sweden.

“It gives me some confidence and momentum to know that I’m there,” she said. “I’m really hoping for a top eight this weekend. That would put me in a really good spot to be selected to the Olympic team.”

Montreal’s Chris Del Bosco, winner of the season-opening World Cup, and Calgary’s Brady Leman headline the men’s team.

Duncan, Toronto’s Kevin Drury, Ian Deans of Lake Country, B.C., and Mathieu Leduc of Comox, B.C., are in the Olympic mix.

Leman expects there will some desperation among the men Saturday with Olympic dreams on the line.

“There are a lot of guys skiing for their Olympics lives here, not just from Canada,” he said. “France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

“There are a lot of teams really deep in talent that have five or six guys fighting for only three or four spots and we’re one of those teams.”

“It’s going to put a little bit extra oomph in everyone’s skiing.”

Just Posted

Child’s play at Westerner Days

Balloons bring out the child in everyone

‘Do Indians have property rights?’ Former Alberta chief’s land dispute in court

STANDOFF, Alta. — A dispute between two families over land on Canada’s… Continue reading

Missing female found near Sundre

Local rancher finds missing female

Buyers turn to letters to snag homes in Canada’s hot real estate markets

TORONTO — Monica Martins and her husband had been looking for a… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Second World War Two-era B-29 Superfortress named ‘Fifi’ lands for first-ever Canadian tour

MONTREAL — A rare Second World War-era bomber named “Fifi” has touched… Continue reading

Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Stage 15 of Tour de France

CARCASSONNE, France — Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprinted away from two… Continue reading

Ryan Reynolds teases ‘Deadpool 2’ extended cut at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Ryan Reynolds has made a triumphant return to San… Continue reading

‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Shazam!” thrill Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Warner Bros. brought out all the stops Saturday at… Continue reading

All shell, no shock: Lobster prices strong, season picks up

PORTLAND, Maine — New England’s lobster industry faces big new challenges in… Continue reading

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month