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Whistler's Thompson second in France

Ski cross team earns three podiums in Europe



The Canadian ski cross team is missing two of its top athletes in Ashleigh McIvor and Julia Murray but still manages to find a way onto the podium every week.

At St. Johann, Austria it was Brady Leman's turn. Leman has been with the team since 2008, but until this season the closest he had come to a World Cup podium was fifth place. That all changed at the start of this season where he pulled off a gold medal in the season-opener at Innichen/San Candido, Italy. He struggled in the second race with a 27th place finish, but stormed back in Austria last weekend to win the silver medal — a race determined by a photo finish.

"He's got longer arms than I have," joked Leman after Alex Fiva of Switzerland stretched out to take the win by a fraction of a fraction of a second.

"Second is cool and everything, but you want to win."

The silver medal regained the leader's bib for Leman, with Fiva now sitting in second by just two points.

"It was a rough race out there," said Leman. "Conditions were tough and I knew it was going to be a battle out there.

"I got kind of lucky in the first (heat). My first start was just tragic but I nailed the next two. It was a great race."

Daniel Bohnakcer of Germany and Patrick Koller of Austria were third and fourth in the men's final.

Chris DelBosco, the world champion and second in the standings last season, is still looking for his first podium of this season, but is showing improvement from week-to-week. At St. Johann he placed seventh overall, making a few mistakes that come from racing aggressively.

"Del (Bosco) had a few incidents and run-ins," said assistant coach Willy Raine. "We are happy that he's back in there and back to being the aggressive Chris DelBosco that we know.

"It's a great race. It's a pretty amazing venue... there's a lot of rubbing elbows, a fair bit of contact on the course. The conditions were pretty wild. There was a huge snowstorm while we were racing."

Tristan Tafel was 15th and Whistler's Stan Rey placed 19th.

The women's competition was even rougher. World champion Kelsey Serwa was knocked out in the quarter final after getting tangled up with another racer and crashing.

Whistler's Marielle Thompson — on the podium for the first time before Christmas — carried Canada's hopes into the semi-finals and ended up in the small final where she crashed.

"I'm feeling fine," she said after the dust-up. "I kind of got hooked up going into the first section and ended up on my bum. I could definitely be happier but I'm glad I made the small final."

Ophelie David of France took the win, followed by Anna Woerner of Germany. Alizee Baron of France and Heidi Zacher of Germany were third and fourth.

The circuit moved on to a race at Alpe d'Huez, France. In that event it was Chris DelBosco's turn to climb the podium in second place — his first medal of the season — while teammate Dave Duncan earned his third top four result in four races with a fourth place finish. Filip Flisar of Slovenia and Lars Lewen of Sweden were first and third.

Also for Canada, Nick Zoricic was seventh, Brady Leman ninth, Davey Barr 16th, Tristan Tafel 20th, Brian Bennett 25th and Stan Rey 28th.

The other big news of the day was Whistler's Marielle Thompson, who placed second in the women's race — her second medal of the season after a bronze in the opening race, and the best result of her career. Sanna Luedi of Switzerland took the gold and Andrea Limbacher of Austria the bronze. Kelsey Serwa was fourth for Canada after going off course.

"Everyone was kind of together going into the first turn and then it spread out after that," Thompson said. "Limbacher and I were right beside each other going into the second jump and I just got in front of her."

Thompson is only in her second year with the national team. She made the top eight three times in her rookie season, then won the national championship title — despite breaking her thumbs at X Games.

The silver medal puts her closer than ever, but she's not taking anything for granted.

"I don't think you can get used to it but it feels pretty good," she said. "What's made the difference is just my confidence in myself. The training has definitely helped a lot — there's been a big improvement in my skiing."