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Thompson named to Canada's Olympic ski-cross team

Dave Duncan also set to go to South Korea



When Marielle Thompson ruptured her ACL and MCL during a training crash in October, her opportunity to defend her Olympic gold was thrown into jeopardy.

But when Alpine Canada Alpin revealed its roster on Jan. 22, Thompson was listed as one of four women on the team.

While Thompson's participation isn't set in stone, with women's ski-cross being one of the final events slated (on Feb. 23), she has a month to train and determine if she's in good-enough condition to take the plunge. Joining Thompson are Brittany Phelan, Kelsey Serwa and India Sherret while Tiana Gairns will serve as the alternate. The team's depth took an unfortunate hit on the weekend when Vancouver's Georgia Simmerling, sitting fourth in the World Cup standings, crashed and broke both legs in the race.

"It was really big to be part of the Olympic team announcement today, especially after having had the fall. After the season I've had, with everything being in question, it's great to be a part of this strong ski-cross team," Thompson said from Calgary.

Thompson's first time back on snow was just the day before the announcement at Nakiska Ski Resort, where the World Cup ran over the weekend.

"It was really back to basics but I'm happy to have been able to slide around with a couple of my coaches," she said. "It's just one step of many but I ticked that box and it's onto the next."

Thompson said soon after her injury, the focus immediately shifted to how she could safely and strongly get back as quickly as possible. She noted she had a workout scheduled after the Olympic-team announcement as she stayed on track.

"Right from the beginning, after I injured myself and I had surgery, I made a really solid plan with my doctors, surgeons, physiotherapists, massage therapists, trainers and coaches," she said. "We're taking it day by day and seeing how it progresses. I'm happy with where I am right now and hope it keeps trending in the right direction.

"There were definitely a lot of questions as to what I'd be able to do after the surgery but everything has been great and I'm quite happy with where I'm at.

"I have to keep working and doing everything I can to get out there and be competitive when I need to."

Head coach Stanley Hayer said with an ace like Thompson, he'll have a competitive athlete if he has a healthy athlete.

"There's no real reason to push it until we need to," Hayer told the Canadian Press. "She's proven she can win. She's proven she's the best women's ski crosser in the world. It's making sure she's confident in what her body can do come race day.

"With her experience, muscle memory, the imagery she's using now, it's not impossible at all. She's not scared of any track, she's not scared of any feature. If she can get a couple days of training, she's probably close to full speed if she's confident."

On the men's side, Whistler's Dave Duncan will be on the team alongside Chris Del Bosco, Kevin Drury and Brady Leman with Ian Deans as the alternate.

This marks the third time Duncan has been named to the Olympic team, but will be his second competition as he suffered an injury while training for the 2010 Games. Duncan was 26th in Sochi in 2014.

"It's another completion of a childhood dream," Duncan said. "I'm pumped. I can't wait to get over there and get to work."

Having cycled through the Olympic wringer a couple of times before, Duncan knows what to expect heading into the Games.

"The results didn't go the way that I would like but there was still plenty to learn in terms of the process and the pressure you put on yourself to be successful," he said. "It's comforting to know you've been through them and you can come up with your strategies for how to deal with them."

The 35-year-old hasn't had the most prosperous season in terms of results, with a sixth-place finish at Arosa, Switzerland in his second race of the season currently serving as his only top-10 result.

However, he's happy with his process and is confident heading into PyeongChang.

"It's been a disappointment, result-wise, but I don't think the results are indicative of the performance. There are a lot of things going right right now," Duncan said. "I feel a lot better on my skis. My starts are figured out again."