The Canadian Ski Cross Team has depth to spare it seems, with yet another member of the men's team reaching the podium at Bischofswiesen/Goetschen, Germany last weekend. Tristan Tafel, wearing Bib 26, won his first career ski cross race and his first World Cup medal, making him the fifth member of the men's team to climb the podium this season in addition to Chris Del Bosco, Dave Duncan, Brady Leman and Nik Zoricic.
"I'm still in shock," said Tafel, who turned 21 on Sunday. "I was really happy with my starts but in the final I just kept thinking, 'I'm going to get some contact at this turn or this jump,' and it never happened. As I turned the corner going into the finish I was like, 'Holy cow, I'm in the lead and I might just win my first World Cup."
Tafel got lucky in the quarterfinal when racer Tomas Kraus took out one of the start gates in a miscue at the start. Tafel thought quickly, hiked back up and jumped over the gates along with another skier from France to get back in the race.
He gave the credit to his teammates for making him better.
"I just want to thank my team for helping me out this season," he said. "It's their win, really. I've gotten so many tips from all of my teammates."
Also on the podium was Chris Del Bosco in third behind John Teller of the U.S. Sylvain Miailler of France — the other skier to jump the gate with Tafel — also made the finals and finished fourth.
Nick Zoricic was 15th, Brady Leman 19th, Davey Barr 23rd and David Duncan 29th.
In the second men's race, Whistler's David Duncan returned to the podium with a second place finish between Filip Flisar of Slovenia and Jean Frederic Chapuis of France. Alex Fiva of Switzerland also made the final.
Duncan was happy to be back on the podium after a minor injury kept him sidelined for a few weeks. His last podium was in December.
"It was not an easy day," he said. "My starts were the only thing that kept me alive today. The course doesn't really suit my talents, so to speak.
"I'm definitely happy with where I am at. The story that's developing is I either make it to the final or end up in the fence."
Brady Leman improved to eighth, Davey Barr was 15th, Nick Zoricic 26th and Chris Del Bosco 29th.
In the overall ski cross standings, Alex Fiva held onto the top spot with 382 points, while Brady Leman is just seven points back with 375. Chris DelBosco, despite a slow start, is back in the hunt with 317 points, while Dave Duncan is sixth with 278.
On the women's side, Whistler's Marielle Thompson has been doing an incredible job holding down the fort while three of her teammates — Olympic champion Ashleigh McIvor, world champion Kelsey Serwa and Julia Murray, third in the last world championships — are recovering from various knee injuries.
In the first race in Germany she finished well back in 20th position. Andrea Limbacher of Austria took the win, followed by Ophelie David and Alizee Baron of France. Norway's Hedda Berntsen was fourth.
Thompson was right back in it on day two, placing third while earning her fifth World Cup medal this season.
"I'm happy to be back on the podium," said Thompson. "It was pretty rough out there today. It was a battle."
Conditions were tough on both days. On the first day it was warm and slushy, and on day two racers faced heavy snow and poor visibility through the day, with a slush layer underneath.
Karin Mueller of Switzerland took the win, while Ophelie David of France passed Thompson on a turn to take the silver medal. Andrea Limbacher of Austria was fourth.
Thompson is second overall in the World Cup standings with 390 points, 30 fewer than Ophelie David and one more than Sanna Luedi of Switzerland. Although she's been injured since X Games, Kelsey Serwa is seventh.