It was the best of seasons, it was the worst of seasons. Borrowing from Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities is a fair way to sum up the past year in Ski Cross, with the death of Canada's Nik Zoricic in the second-to-last race of the season casting a long shadow over the team's accomplishments.
In the end, the team won the Nations Cup for the fourth straight year, despite injuries to three of four members of the senior women's team — Olympic Champion Ashleigh McIvor, World Champion Kelsey Serwa and World Champion runner up Julia Murray. All of the athletes contributed — five different men reached the podium this year — but without a question the outstanding athlete for the team was Whistler's Marielle Thompson.
Just 19, and in her second year with the team, Thompson earned her first World Cup podium in the first race of the season. After that she caught fire, making the podium five more times. She won three races, and was leading the overall standings when Zoricic was killed in Switzerland. The last two races were cancelled, and Thompson was handed the overall Crystal Globe.
She'll never have a chance to race those last two events, but if momentum counts for anything she did win the previous two events and had the momentum.
It was a sad way to end the season, and Thompson is still coming to grips with it.
"It's definitely taken a lot of processing around everything that's happened, but I'm definitely taking all the good as well as the bad," she said. "I still don't think the fact that I won the Crystal Globe has sunk in — it's been a while now, and I've just been carrying it around in my car."
Being the only member of the senior women's team was also different, but she said she did get used to it. "It's definitely different," she said. "At the start of the season I had Kelsey (Serwa) there, and Georgia (Simmerling) and Nick (Mariannick Therer) until halfway, but I was on my own a lot after that. But I got used to it. The guys are really supportive and great for training with. It was good to see all their different lines and they were always there to ask for advice. But it was a bit weird not having a roommate.
"For training I had to go out there with all the other single girls," she added, referring to the girls on the World Cup tour that were alone representing their countries. "That was fine, but I missed being able to talk to the other girls, and figure out what they're doing and how I could be even faster. Even in preseason training it's great to have teammates because it's great to have a benchmark. You know if you're tight with the other girls in timing then we're all doing well."