Canada's Zoricic 2nd at ski cross World Cup
Nick Zoricic's transition to ski cross is virtually complete.
The former alpine skier from Toronto captured his first World Cup ski cross medal Friday, finishing second to American John Teller at a World Cup event in St. Johann, Austria.
"It was a great race, great atmosphere, lots of people under the lights, that gave me a lot of energy," Zoricic said in a conference call. "I wanted to do something tonight and I did."
The 27-year-old Zoricic has been on a steep learning curve since trading his alpine skis for freestyle ones just prior to last season. He's had 19 World Cup starts, and he finally cracked the top 10 with a fourth- and an eighth-place finish last month.
"I came into the sport and there was a lot to absorb every day," Zoricic said.
The fear factor was just one. Zoricic said he was never afraid in an alpine race because he was alone on the course, with his own fate in his hands. Having to battle three other skiers on a treacherous ski-cross course adds an entirely new level of danger.
"You go off a jump and some guy takes out your skis from the back," Zoricic said comparing ski cross to alpine. "It's not self-induced, it's completely involuntary, but there you are, you're upside-down in the air.
"It takes confidence to go into a turn with three other guys beside you fighting for that same line. Last year, sometimes I'd back off, I didn't want to get hurt. You have to be courageous, you have to be very very confident and go in there and kind of hope for the best."
Zoricic bristles at suggestions ski-cross racing is a softer, tamer version of alpine, and it doesn't take just pure guts, he said, to be successful.
"Skiing is skiing, you need the technical ability to do anything, but this is not the same," Zoricic said.
"I don't care who it is, Aksel [Lund Svindal], Bode [Miller], whoever wants, they can come into this and I don't think they'd win," he added, referring to two of the world's top alpine stars. "What we're doing is difficult and it's a different set of skills."
Despite his podium performance Friday, Zoricic still doesn't believe his transition to his new sport is entirely complete.
"I don't feel like I have the liberty of saying that yet," said Zoricic, who was born in Sarajevo, moving to Toronto when he was five. "It's there, but it's still a work in progress. Every day I'm still trying to improve, by no means are all the pieces in place, but we're working towards it."
Zoricic was first out of the gate in the four-skier final Friday, and held the lead until right before the line when Teller snuck past the Canadian off a jump.
"I wasn't able to hang on, lost it right at the line," Zoricic said. "Couldn't haven't done anything, just got outskied."
Teller's win vaulted him into the lead in the overall standings with 170 points. Zoricic is second with 162 while Andreas Matt of Austria is third with 159.
Heidi Zacher of Germany won her first World Cup title in the women's event by beating Hedda Berntsen of Norway and fellow German Anna Woerner in the final.
Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., was fifth.
Zacher tops the standings with 210 points, 43 clear of Fanny Smith of Switzerland. Anna Holmlund of Sweden is third with 150 points.
The next World Cup ski cross event is next Wednesday and Thursday in Alpe d'Huez, France.
With files from The Canadian Press