Marielle Thompson captures ski-cross silver, earning Canada its 20th medal of Beijing Games

Marielle Thompson, of Whistler, B.C., skied to a silver medal in women's ski-cross at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on Thursday.

29-year-old wins her 2nd Olympic medal after earning gold in event at Sochi 2014

Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., seen above, raced to her second Olympic medal in ski cross on Thursday, winning silver in the event. (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Marielle Thompson, of Whistler, B.C., skied to a silver medal in women's ski cross at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on Thursday.

It is the second Olympic medal of the 29-year-old's career after winning gold in the event at Sochi 2014 — and since then, has gone on to become one of the best athletes to ever compete in the sport. 

Thompson now has two Olympic medals to go along with her 50 World Cup podium finishes, 25 World Cup wins, world championship and three overall World Cup Crystal Globes.

On Thursday, fresh snow slowed down the Olympic course, but as an experienced skier, and from Canada's snowiest skiing region, Thompson knew how to handle it.

WATCH | Thompson races to ski-cross silver, wins Canada's 20th medal of Games:

British Columbia's Marielle Thompson rallies to Olympic ski cross silver medal

10 months ago
Duration 13:23
Marielle Thompson, of Whistler, B.C., skied to a silver medal in women's ski cross at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. It's Canada's 20th medal in Beijing.

"I stuck with it, I knew I was fast at the bottom and knew I could do some single rollers rather than jumping, especially in the slow, fresh snow," she said after the victory ceremony. "I just stuck with it, didn't give up until then and it worked out for me."

Sweden's Sandra Naeslund won her first Olympic gold medal, continuing a strong season where she has won all nine World Cup races, including the test event on the Olympic track in November. 

Fanny Smith of Switzerland, the all-time leader in World Cup wins with 29, thought she had won her second career bronze medal, but after a lengthy review Germany's Daniela Maier stepped onto the podium and Smith fell to fourth. 

The 29-year-old Swiss skier recently came back from injury after getting tangled up with Thompson in a January race in Nakiska, Alta., landing her in a quick rehab program and putting her Olympics in doubt.

Maier, who took the eventual bronze medal, had ACL surgery a year ago.

Exceptional Canadian performances

Entering the Olympic Games, Team Canada could not send its entire World Cup contingent of racers, with only the top four that met Alpine Canada standards being allowed into four allotted spots from the International Ski Federation.

Courtney Hoffos, Brittany Phelan, and Hannah Schmidt joined Thompson on the Canadian team, and all four Canadians qualified for the semifinals, ensuring at least one Canadian a chance at a podium in the event.

Phelan, who won silver at PyeongChang 2018, missed out on Thursday's final by a photo finish. Hoffos and Schmidt, two Olympic debutantes, impressed in their first race on the Olympic stage.

For the Canadian team, having the maximum number of racers allowed for a country was not just an achievement before the race, but making the maple leaf half of the final eight was unheard of in Olympic ski-cross racing.

Thompson bounces back from injury

For Thompson, getting back to the Olympic podium was a long time coming.

In 2017, an ACL tear before PyeongChang 2018 nearly forced her out of the Games, but a quick recovery saw her make the Olympic start gate. However, despite her quick rehab and determination, she failed to advance past the quarter-finals.

In March 2021, she tore her same ACL during a race in Sunny Valley, Russia, and had just 10 months to recover in time to reach the Olympic podium. While the 2021-22 season has not been up to Thompson's Crystal Globe standards, she has four podium finishes, one gold medal and now an Olympic silver. 

Despite the setbacks, she has powered through with the support of her family, and her brother Broderick, who raced for Canada at Beijing 2022 in alpine skiing. While Broderick is younger, the duo's sibling rivalry boiled when he began getting stronger, making her want to push to improve further.

With her silver medal, Thompson continues the tradition of Canadians winning Olympic medals in women's ski cross. Since the event's Olympic debut and Ashleigh McIvor's gold medal at Vancouver 2010, Canada has medalled at every Games since.

Another Whistler athlete, Ashleigh McIvor, seen above, inspired Thompson to take up ski cross with her win at Vancouver 2010 (Adrian Dennis/Getty Images)

"I got to watch Vancouver live, so to have the Olympic atmosphere was inspiring," Thompson said. "I knew that someday I would like to make it to the Olympics — and to have a gold medal and a silver medal, I am overjoyed."

Ski cross is not over for the Canadians at Beijing 2022, with the men taking on the course on Friday with qualifications starting at 10:45 p.m. ET.

All the action will be streaming live on CBC Gem, the CBC Sports app and CBC Sports' Beijing 2022 website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Steiner

Freelance Writer

Ben Steiner is a freelance sports journalist and commentator with experience covering U SPORTS, FIS World Cup Alpine Skiing, IBSF World Cup Bobsled, and the Canadian National Soccer Teams. After growing up in Vancouver, he is now based in Toronto. Twitter: @BenSteiner00

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