After overcoming illness and injury in recent seasons, Zoe Bergermann is ready to rise on the FIS World Cup circuit.
The Whistler snowboard-cross athlete, originally from Erin, Ont., medalled in the first team event of the season, scoring a silver alongside Prince George's Meryeta O'Dine to finish behind only France in Montafon, Austria. Russia also hit the podium in third.
In an email from Cervinia, Italy, where she's preparing for the next World Cup event on Dec. 22, Bergermann said she's thrilled to bounce back after a tough 2016-17.
"I struggled with a knee and ankle injury last season and spent a lot of time rehabbing over the summer. It feels so good to see my hard work pay off and to come back ahead of where I was last season," she explained.
On a microlevel, both Bergermann and O'Dine entered the team event on Dec. 17 with feelings of unfinished business as both experienced some disappointment, with O'Dine taking eighth and Bergermann 13th as the top Canadian performances in the individual race the previous day. Michela Moioli of Italy took the win, followed by American Faye Gulini and France's Nelly Moenne Loccoz.
"I think we were both out for redemption for the team event. We both fell the day before in the race so we came into the team event focused and hungry for more," Bergermann said.
On-course conditions also turned out to be fortuitous for the speedy Canadians to work some magic on fresh pow.
"The conditions were pretty good for us, it was dumping snow but the visibility was still pretty good. The fresh snow definitely slowed down the track, but we took advantage of that and worked for extra speed everywhere we could," she said.
Acting as the anchor for the two-person race, Bergermann said it's an interesting experience to drop while hoping her teammate can earn her a bit of a cushion for her run.
"Meryeta dropped first and once she crossed the finish line my gate opens. My coach was standing on the first feature giving me hand signals so I knew when I could expect my gate to drop," Bergermann wrote. "It's nerve-racking standing in the gate watching her position change and hoping she could stay on her feet and not get tangled up with any of the other riders. And it's nerve-racking for her standing at the bottom watching my run on the screen hoping for the same thing!"
The result puts the duo into second in the overall standings and will help them with their position starts in upcoming races.
In the individual women's race, Carle Brenneman and Tess Critchlow were 15th and 16th, respectively, behind O'Dine and Bergermann. In the individual men's race in Montafon, Kevin Hill was the top Canadian in sixth while Eliot Grondin and Baptiste Brochu took 23rd and 25th, respectively.