Patient Canadian Reece Howden earns 2nd World Cup ski cross gold medal
Teammate Chris Del Bosco posts best finish in 3 years; Tiana Gairns career-high 5th
Reece Howden is accustomed to leading ski cross competitions but on Saturday employed a different strategy, purposely sitting back before waiting for a break on the way to a second World Cup victory in 33 days.
The 22-year-old from Cultus Lake, B.C., settled in the middle of the pack for much of the big finals until the final turn on the full-length course in Idre Fjall, Sweden.
"The plan was to not come out in front, the draft was too strong," he told Alpine Canada. "I wanted to chill in the middle of the pack and give my legs a bit of a break and once I made that last turn fire up those engines and get out in front," said Howden, who sits atop the season rankings.
"Today was a day of racing, not a day of leading, so I was super happy with my execution and it couldn't have gone any better."
WATCH | Reece Howden earns his 3rd World Cup medal:
Howden captured silver and the next day gold in late December in Val Thorens, France. He has been able to devote more time to skiing this season after graduating from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the spring.
Howden's teammate, veteran ski cross racer Chris Del Bosco of Montreal, was third in the small finals on Saturday and seventh overall for his best finish since 2018.
"It's been a while since I've been back in the small finals," said Del Bosco, who ruptured his Achilles last summer. "It felt really good to get the monkey off my back. I made a few small mistakes in that last round, but I am heading in the right direction."
Hoffos, Thompson inside top 10
Ottawa's Jared Schmidt delivered a career-best 29th-place finish while Brady Leman (27th), Kris Mahler (32nd) and Carson Cook (48th) rounded out the Canadian contingent.
In the women's event, Tiana Gairns of Prince George, B.C., placed a career-best fifth, followed by Courtney Hoffos (Invermere, B.C.) and Marielle Thompson (Whistler, B.C.) in sixth and eighth, respectively.
"Idre is interesting since it's such a long track with such a long straight section that you don't want to pass at the beginning," Gairns said.
Added Hoffos: "You almost want to be patient and hold your composure in fourth place so you can boost ahead of everyone at the last second."
Zoe Chore (16th) and Hannah Schmidt (17th) were the other Canadian competitors.
The men and women return to the Swedish course on Sunday at 6 a.m. ET.