This podium finish was particularly emotional for Marielle Thompson.
Thompson finished second in women’s ski cross at the freestyle world championships on Sunday. The native of Whistler, B.C., dedicated her silver medal former teammate to Nik Zoricic, who died one year ago following a crash in a World Cup race.
“I thought about him in the start gate in the final and I had to take a second to calm down,” the 2011 World Cup champion said. “Being on the podium, it was a big moment. This entire weekend has been pretty emotional. Definitely a lot of thoughts about Nik.”
Fanny Smith of Switzerland finished won gold, with Ophelie David of France taking bronze.
In the men’s race, Jean Frederic Chapuis beat fellow Frenchman Bastien Midol for gold while John Teller of the United States took bronze. Montreal’s Chris del Bosco, the 2011 champion, was sixth.
Kelsey Serwa, from Kelowna, B.C., the 2011 women’s world champion, was unable to defend her title after tweaking her knee in training. Serwa’s knee will be evaluated before it’s decided whether she will compete in next weekend’s races in Are, Sweden.
Thompson had great starts all day long on a tight course that offered few opportunities for passing and she cruised through to the women’s final to finish second.
“I’m definitely really excited,” Thompson said. “Coming into this race I had some confidence after a great training session in Germany.”
Thompson had a slow start to the season, but she was second in the Olympic test event in Sochi, Russia, and is starting to look like she’s back to her best. She was fourth in qualifying Sunday — her best qualification result of the season — and she was second in her round of 32 heat before winning her quarter-final and semifinal.
“That was great,” Canadian head coach Eric Archer said of Thompson’s performance. “She did her job today in qualifying to get lane choice. She did the best she could in the final and ended up with silver.”
Georgia Simmerling, of West Vancouver, B.C., was 13th overall while Calgary’s Danie Sundquist finished 22nd overall.
Del Bosco, meanwhile, did his best to defend his world championship title after finishing fifth in qualification but came up against racers with better seed times in his semi-final.
“If you were in the left two gates you had a pretty good shot,” Del Bosco said. “I left it all out there but it was kind of frustrating.
“In the semifinal I had third lane choice. I had pretty decent starts but I just couldn’t get it done and get in the final.”
Del Bosco said Zoricic was in everyone’s thoughts on race day.
“I think we all just had him in our hearts,” Del Bosco said. “We really wanted to perform here and do something special for him. We all gave it our best. Marielle stepped up and got on the podium. Nik was probably laughing that I was in the small final because he hated small finals. We were all thinking a lot about Nik and trying to represent out there.”
Tristan Tafel, of Canmore, Alta., finished ninth while Calgary’s Brady Leman was 15th. Dave Duncan of London, Ont., was 19th. Louis-Pierre Helie, of Berthierville, Que., did not advance past the qualification round.