Road To The Olympic Games

Alpine skier Ben Thomsen locks up Olympic spot

Skier Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, B.C., secured an Olympic spot for next month’s Sochi Games after finishing 12th in the men’s World Cup downhill race Saturday in Kitzbeuhel, Austria.

Canadian finishes 12th in men's World Cup downhill in Austria Saturday

Watch Canada's Ben Thomsen secure his spot to Sochi. 1:27

Canadian Ben Thomsen punched his ticket to the Sochi Winter Games on Saturday in Kitzbeuhel, Austria.

The 26-year-old native of Invermere, B.C., finished 12th in a World Cup downhill race over the legendary Hahnenkamm course.

Thomsen met the Tier 1 criteria for nomination to Canada's Olympic team in the final race before the qualification window closed.

Hannes Reichelt became the first Austrian winner of the event in eight years on Saturday, posting a time of two minutes 3.38 seconds. Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal was second in 2:03.59 while American Bode Miller took third in 2:03.72.

Starting 50th overall, Thomsen had a time of 2:04.80. Vancouver's Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 16th while Jeffrey Frisch, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was 28th to earn his first top-30 World Cup
result of the season. Morgan Pridy, of Whistler, B.C., came in 42nd.

"It's been a whole season of just trying to get in the points," said Thomsen, whose best previous World Cup result this season was 37th in downhill in Bormio, Italy. "You lose so much confidence
when you're not getting results.

"I wanted to go out there and I wanted to get an amazing result. For me, 12th was an amazing result. It was just good enough - I'm so happy I wasn't 13th! I would put it in the top-five best runs of my
life, feeling-wise."

Loud yell

Thomsen went into the race knowing he needed a top-12 finish to secure an Olympic berth. When he crossed the finish line Saturday, Thomsen let out a loud yell.

"There's just something about Kitzbuhel,"he said. "There are so many people here and they love ski racing so much. "It's been a tough year but the team is always right behind you, pushing you, supporting you. When you come through the finish area and you look over to your teammates and see them smiling and celebrating it's really special."

With the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone looking on, Reichelt avoided the mistakes his rivals had made earlier. He was loudly cheered by 50,000 spectators when the green light for the fastest time appeared on the time table in the finish area.

"This is like dream," said Reichelt, and admitted he had "little tears in my eyes" during the flower ceremony. "Being an Austrian, coming down this course and winning here in front of all these fans, is a huge present," he said. "This is a real highlight of my career. If you win here, you are a legend."

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