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Canadian women sweep ski cross podium



Looking at their results from the season, it was only a matter of time before the Canadian Ski Cross Team women swept a podium. The men's team swept a podium last season, setting the challenge for the women's team to do the same.

They accomplished that feat on March 12 at Grindelwald, Switzerland. Kelsey Serwa was first, Olympic champion Ashleigh McIvor second and Danielle Poleschuk third. The result helped McIvor to close within 27 points of Ophelie David of France in the overall ski cross standings.

"I was so glad that the Canadian gals were able to get (to) the finals," said Kelowna's Serwa, earning her third gold medal of the season. "I was in bottom heat and Ashleigh and Danie were in the top heat so I didn't see them till I was coming up for the final. I was so excited when I got to the top and saw that they still had their bibs on, and they saw that I still had my bib on. I just kept thinking how awesome and how much fun it was going to be to actually get to race together."

Although the team spirit is quite good, there was no question of any of the racers taking it easy on one another.

"I was pretty close to catching (Serwa), definitely within a ski length," said McIvor. "I tried passing her a couple of times, I even had my tips on her tails at one point. I kept trying to pull out but I didn't quite get her."

It was also Poleschuk's first career podium.

Coach Eric Archer said the finals were reminiscent of the team's early season training camp.

"It was like a training day at Powder King because it was almost all Canadians in the final," he said. "They were hooting and hollering and talking to one another down the course, it was a lot of fun to watch."

The team had two days between Grindelwald and another event at Meiringen-Hasliberg, Switzerland. While Friday's event was historic for the team, Sunday's was historic in the opposite way as the only event this season where none of the Canadian women qualified for the final.

McIvor shook off a crash in the semi-final to win the small final and place fifth. Poleschuk was seventh and Serwa 10 th . Anna Holmlund - fourth on Friday - took the win, followed by Ophelie David of France and Marte Hoeie Gjefsen of Norway.

On the men's side, Chris Del Bosco was the top Canadian on both days, earning two bronze medals for his efforts.

"A podium is always good and these guys are really skiing well, it's great to be close to them" he said of winner Audun Groenvold of Norway and silver medalist Michael Schmid of Switzerland on Sunday.

Stanley Hayer placed fourth for Canada on Sunday.

The next event is the World Cup final at Sierra Nevada, Spain on March 20.