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Thompson second in X Games return

Ski-cross racer looks for third Crystal Globe



You've heard it before.

Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa took the top two spots in women's skier X at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo. on Jan. 30.

But in a flip of the 2014 Winter Olympics, it was Kelowna's Serwa taking the gold, holding off a desperate push from Thompson and France's Alizee Baron.

Serwa dashed off to the right side of the course to begin the race and didn't look back, holding back a hard charge from her fellow Canadian.

"I was tired of being second so I made a plan and stuck with it today," Serwa told the Alpine Canada website.

For her part, though she was close, Thompson noted in retrospect there were some elements she could have handled better, including taking a line similar to Serwa right off the top.

"It probably would have been smarter for me to go on that right-side jump as well but I hadn't been skiing that and I thought I could make that big jump fine," she said. "I was a little bit short on it, so it cost me a bit of space. I was hot on her tail for sure. It was a tight race and I just couldn't make it happen.

"And also the butter box — had I been able to air the whole thing, I would have shot past, but I kind of screwed up there and cased it and I lost a lot of speed."

It was only Thompson's second time at the event, as skier X hasn't been included since 2012, when she took a fifth-place finish.

"It was really good to be back at X Games after our sport hasn't been included the past couple years," she said. "It seemed like everyone was stoked to have ski cross and boarder cross back in it. It was really cool to watch the other events. It's just a lot of fun. It's a totally different atmosphere."It's just a lot bigger (than usual). There are so many more sports and athletes from all over the world. It's kind of like a mini-Olympics."

The X Games format differs slightly from the FIS setup in that there are six skiers per race instead of four. While the two situations are ultimately quite similar, there are some small differences skiers need to keep in mind, Thompson said.

"You have to be really defensive with your skiing just because you know with a big draft of all those people, someone can come rocketing by you in the straight sections," she said. "The jumps are probably a bit bigger and they're also gapped jumps. On the FIS circuit, they're not allowed gapped jumps. You have to be able to roll over them... During inspection, you have to be on the lookout so you don't drop off 10 feet (three metres) down to the ground."

Thompson will now head back to Europe to resume the chase for her third FIS Crystal Globe. Sweden's Anna Holmlund has a healthy score of 670 points while Baron and Thompson have 429 and 427 points, respectively.

Though she has some work cut out for her to track down Holmlund, who will be racing in her home country when the calendar continues Valentine's weekend, Thompson is confident entering the stretch.

"I'm on a roll here so hopefully I can keep myself in good shape and skiing well going into these next few races," said Thompson, who has three FIS wins this season, including her last two.

racers led Canada's charge

Four of Canada's 11 medals overall came in the skier X event as the men were also impressive in Aspen.

Calgary's Brady Leman edged France's Bastien Midol for gold while Chris Del Bosco narrowly took the bronze.

Vancouver snowboarder Spencer O'Brien captured the slopestyle gold with a best run of 91.00 to top Americans Jamie Anderson and Hailey Langland.

Regina boarder Mark McMorris, meanwhile, came home with two medals after taking the gold in slopestyle with a 92.66, knocking off fellow Canadian Sebastien Toutant and Norway's Mons Røisland. He also was second to Canuck Max Parrot in the big air, falling 93 to 91, while Japan's Yuki Kadono was the bronze winner. Whistler resident Darcy Sharpe placed sixth in both events.

Barrie, Ont.'s Alex Massie captured silver in snowboard X adaptive behind Finland's Matti Suur-Hamari and snowmobiler Brett Turcotte nabbed the bronze in the freestyle event.

Whistler resident Cassie Sharpe missed out on the podium in women's superpipe, taking a score of 79.33 to American bronze medallist Annalisa Drew's 83.00. U.S. skier Maddie Bowman took gold with an 89.00 and Japan's Ayana Onozuka placed second. Squamish's Roz Groenewoud was sixth.