Marielle Thompson defends Nakiska ski cross title
Win slips away for Brady Leman, ends up with bronze
Marielle Thompson continued a reboot of her ski cross season with a World Cup victory Saturday while Canadian teammate Brady Leman was left lamenting a win that got away.
Thompson, of Whistler, B.C., claimed her second straight victory and third this season. It was also her third win in as many years at Nakiska Ski Resort west of Calgary.
The reigning Olympic women's champion ran the table by posting the fastest qualifying time Friday and winning her quarter-final, semifinal and final Saturday at the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup.
Sweden's Anna Holmlund was second and Austrian Andrea Limbacher finished third in the women's final.
"I think the course really suits my style with big jumps, lots of big turns and banks," Thompson said. "It's a lot of fun and we're at home in Canada. How could it be better?"
Thompson's 2014-15 campaign ended early when she banged knees with a competitor and suffered ligament damage at last year's world championship.
The 22-year-old won this season's opener in Montafon, Austria. Thompson finished outside the medals her next four races until a victory last week in Italy.
"I won the first race of the year and was feeling really good, but then I had a few tough crashes after that," Thompson said. "Now I'm feeling like my legs are back under me and I'm ready to go."
Leman won his heat in the men's round of 16, as well as his quarter-final and semifinal. He led in the home stretch of the final, but the Calgarian was caught at the line in a wild photo finish as three men lunged for gold.
The Canadian settled for bronze by behind victor Jean-Frederic Chapuis of France and runner-up Armin Niederer of Switzerland.
Leman has finished in the medals in five-of-eight World Cup races this season, but the 28-year-old is still searching for his first win.
"It's tough to see that gold medal slip away on my home hill," Leman said. "Five podiums in eight races is awesome, but five finals without a win is disappointing."
Chapuis padded his lead over Leman in the overall World Cup standings. Leman remained second trailing the 2014 Olympic men's champion by 100 points.
Thompson's win pushed her from fourth to third in the women's standings behind leader Holmlund and Alizee Baron of France.
Thompson was the first Canadian to claim a ski cross crystal globe for the overall title in 2012 and repeated in 2014.
"It's definitely there in my mind," Thompson said. "(Holmlund) is really far ahead right now.
"She was really dominant for the whole beginning of the season."
Thompson's day wasn't without its challenges as she got twisted in the air and lost speed trying to recover during her semifinal.
"I saw the race flash before my eyes a little bit there, but I pulled it back together and was better on the next one," Thompson said.
Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., crashed in her semifinal and finished seventh. Toronto's Kevin Drury was third in his quarter-final to place 10th overall.
Montreal's Chris Del Bosco, Kris Mahler of Canmore, Alta., and Mathieu Leduc of Comox, B.C., were eliminated in the men's round of 16 and finished 17th, 21st and 28th, respectively.
Ski cross returns to this year's X Games in Aspen, Colo., after a three-year absence. Thompson, Serwa, Leman and Del Bosco are the Canadian ski crossers invited to compete at the X Games, which run from Thursday to Sunday in Aspen.