Canada’s Ski Cross team kicked off its season at the World Cup opener at St. Johann, Austria on Monday, with a huge number of international athletes vying for quota spots in the 2010 Games.
Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, who was released from the Canadian Alpine Ski Team after last season, placed third overall on the women’s side. After a solid time in the qualifier, she won her first race, then placed second in the semi-final to move onto the finals.
She had a bad start, missed the hole shot, and found herself in fourth place. She was patient and stayed close to Ophelie David of France, the reigning World Cup champion, when David lost a ski and was forced to pull out. That left Serwa in third.
“I had a really difficult lane from the start and knew I had my work cut out for me,” said Serwa. Let’s face it, I was already pretty excited about being in the final of my first ski cross World Cup ever, and when I saw Ophelie lose a ski I thought ‘Whoah, I’m on the podium.’ At that point I wanted to continue to ski smart to the finish.”
Serwa entered the nationals last year on a whim after being released from the national ski team, and finished second.
“Third place in today’s race at St. Johann pretty much validates the decision to make the move to ski cross,” she said. “It’s really exciting to be a part of a new Olympic sport and get the opportunity to possibly compete in the Olympics in front of a hometown crowd.”
Marion Josserand of France took the gold medal, followed by Katharina Gutensohn of Austria.
None of the other Canadians qualified in the top-16 to race in the finals. Anik Demers-Wild came closest in 25 th position.
On the men’s side the top Canadian was Chris DelBosco in seventh, with Brady Leman in 11 th , and Stanley Hayer in 19 th .