A series of crashes left Canada off the podium in the last ski cross World Cup before the Pyeongchang Games, and one ended one athlete’s Olympic dreams completely.
After winning her quarter-final heat, Vancouver’s Georgia Simmerling crashed in her semifinal just before the last jump leading up to the finish line, breaking her lower-left leg and taking her out of contention for the Games.
The multi-sport athlete was a medal favourite heading into Pyeongchang1:03
Simmerling, who was ranked fourth in World Cup standings heading into Saturday’s races, was loaded onto a toboggan and taken to a hospital in Calgary. Willy Raine, the athletic director for Canada Ski Cross, confirmed she’d broken a bone in her lower leg.
Simmerling crashed out during the FIS World Cup Ski Cross semifinals at the Nakiska Ski Resort in Kananaskis, Alberta1:16
“I’m hoping that she’s okay,” said teammate Kelsey Serwa, who fell in the women’s final to finish in fourth place. “We’re sending her our best obviously.”
Drury collides in men’s final
Toronto’s Kevin Drury collided with Swiss skier Marc Bischofberger in the men’s final and finished off the podium, and Calgary’s Brady Leman, who had Friday’s fastest qualification run, crashed in Saturday’s first heat.
“It felt like the guy behind me just kind of landed on my inside ski,” said Drury. “There’s nothing you can do about it. That’s the sport. It just kind of washed me out.”
Germany’s Paul Eckert raced hard to the finish line to win his first ski cross World Cup title. Austria’s Christoph Wahrstoetter finished alone in second, while Bischofberger and Drury got back up on their skis to finish third and fourth respectively.
The German hung on to win the Big Final at the FIS Ski Cross World Cup event at the Nakiska Ski Resort near Calgary, Alberta. Canada’s Kevin Drury crashed mid-race, and finished 4th.3:38
Drury’s fourth-place finish tied his career best.
“It was crazy because I didn’t know the guys behind me crashed and no one was behind me, so I was pushing and pushing,” Eckert said. “I thought hopefully it’s enough for first place and when I crossed the finish line I looked back and no one was there and I was really surprised, but I’m happy. It doesn’t matter. First place is first place.”
Montreal’s Chris Del Bosco placed second in the small final to finish sixth overall.
Leman collided with Canadian teammate Mathieu Leduc of Comox, B.C., ending both skiers’ days prematurely.
‘It’s too bad’
“I just had a little bit of contact going into the turn at the bottom, which took away a little bit of speed and left an opportunity for Mat to kind of get beside me,” said Leman. “It’s too bad that he missed a gate and kept on going. That’s not a good move for a Canadian to do especially.”
Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund won the women’s final at Nakiska. French skiers Marielle Berger Sabbatel and Alizee Baron took second and third, respectively while Serwa took fourth.
Sandra Naeslund, the 2016-17 FIS Ski Cross World Cup runner-up, took home the win at the Nakiska Ski Resort near Calgary, Alberta. Canadian Kelsey Serwa fell mid-race and finished 4th in the Big Final.3:55
“It was really cool coming down, even though I was in fourth place and missed that podium, to have the home crowd welcome me through the finish line,” said the Kelowna, B.C., native.
“I’m skiing really well. I’m charging after it. I’m not letting up anywhere. Sometimes a ski pops off and that’s just part of the sport. I’m happy to be healthy and strong going into the Olympics.”
Brittany Phelan, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., finished first in the women’s small final ahead of Canadian teammate Tiana Gairns, of Prince George, B.C., who qualified to compete in her first World Cup race.
Canada’s Olympic ski cross team will be announced Monday.
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