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Canada's Nik Zoricic, top, speeds down during the skicross World Cup finals, Saturday March 10, 2012 in Grindelwald Switzerland. Zoricic died from head injuries after crashing heavily in the skicross event on Saturday, the International Ski Federation said.

Samuel Truempy/Keystone/AP/Samuel Truempy/Keystone/AP

Canadian alpine skier Phil Brown paid tribute to fellow racer Nik Zoricic on Monday after winning the giant-slalom race at the Nor-Am Cup in Stowe, Vt.

Zoricic died Saturday after a crash near the finish line on a World Cup ski-cross race course in Switzerland. After taking the final jump too wide, he flew into the course's safety netting and struck his head.

His death has sent shockwaves through Canada's skiing community, as friends and family mourn the loss of the 29-year-old skier, who was known for his passion for the sport.

Story continues below advertisement

In a statement issued by Alpine Canada, the governing body for downhill racing, Brown said his giant-slalom victory was bittersweet because he was thinking of Zoricic. It was his first Nor-Am Cup win.

"It was pretty emotional for me just because of what happened the last couple of days," the 22-year-old said. "Nik was a really close friend of mine. I went out skiing for Nik today and it worked out so I was happy about that."

Brown and Zoricic both grew up skiing at the Craigleith Ski Club, just west of Collingwood, Ont., where Zoricic's father was a coach.

Brown said he recently spoke with Zoricic's father, Predrag Bebe Zoricic, over the phone.

"He was an old coach of mine and he was really proud and happy [for me]" he told Alpine Canada. "I think that's all I could have done today."

Zoricic's death is the second for Canada's skiing community in recent months. Freestyle skier Sarah Burke died in January, nine days after she crashed at the bottom of a superpipe event in Utah.

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