ROSA KHUTOR, Russia – Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa capped off a strong showing in Sochi for the Canadian freestyle team by taking the gold and silver medals in the women’s ski cross on Friday.
In the last freestyle skiing event of the Sochi Games, on a foggy, drizzly day at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Canada had its third 1-2 performance in freestyle; Canada also took gold and silver in men’s and women’s moguls. Anna Holmlund of Sweden took the bronze medal in Friday’s race after French ski cross favorite Ophelie David crashed halfway down the course.
Thompson, from Whistler, British Columbia, is the reigning FIS World Cup champ in ski cross, and has two wins and four top-three finishes this season on the circuit. She was the silver medalist at last year’s FIS World Championships in Voss, Norway. Serwa is also from British Columbia (Kelowna), and a former FIS world champ in ski cross, at the 2011 championships at Deer Valley, Utah.
No U.S. riders competed in women’s ski cross. Georgia Simmerling, the third Canadian competitor, was a DNF in the quarterfinals, after winning her heat in the 1/8 finals.
“I’m really excited,” Thompson said in the finish. “I’m so glad I get to share this moment with Kelsey. I’m so glad that I could bring it home for Canada.”
Thompson said she and Serwa first met when she (Thompson) was new to the team. “I’d just turned 18. Kelsey really mentored me when I was younger, she taught me a lot of things. She taught me lots of racing things, like how to press jumps. She helped me get to where I am today.”
Skiing since she was 2, Thompson said she was 15 or 16 when she decided she wanted to try something new. “We had this little ski cross race in Whistler,” she said. “I had a blast and I thought, ‘I want to do this.’ I did the Nor-Am Tour and then I got my World Cup spot. I love it. It’s the most fun you can have on skis.”
Canada wound up with four gold medals in freestyle, to three for the U.S., two for Belarus (men’s and women’s aerials), and one for France. Canada is now tied with the U.S. with eight gold medals in Olympic freestyle skiing, and moved into second place in the medals race at Sochi. Canada topped the medal count four years ago in Vancouver.
Asked why the Canadians have done so well in freestyle here, Serwa joked, “It’s the water.”
She said Canada has a really good program, “and we’re really supportive of each other. We push each other. We’ve been watching each others’ events all week and getting fired up whenever anyone is on the podium.”
Holmlund’s bronze medal was the first in freestyle for Sweden since a silver in aerials at Lillehammer in 1994.
Two riders were injured badly enough in quarterfinal heats during Friday’s ski cross that they had to be taken off the course in toboggans. Anna Woerner of Germany and Stephanie Joffroy of Chile were both receiving medical attention after crashes in separate heats.
RESULTS, WOMEN’S SKI CROSS
|17||5||2527513||HOEIE GJEFSEN Marte||1989||NOR||140.00|
|19||17||2529528||BERGER SABBATEL Marielle||1990||FRA||120.00|
Update: German biathlete, Italian bobsledder out of Games, accused of doping
Two athletes, a German biathlete and an Italian bobsledder, have been banned from the Sochi Olympics over doping charges, both reportedly over the use of the stimulant dimethylpentylamine.
Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, who competed earlier in the Games in biathlon for Germany, and William Frullani, scheduled to compete in the four-man bobsled event for Italy, had positive tests on Tuesday, officials said.
Sachenbacher-Stehle was told of her positive test Thursday night, according to the German ski federation. She said in a statement that she had not knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs and that she would “do everything in my power to clear up this case.”
“I am living through my worst nightmare right now,” Sachenbacher-Stehle said. “I cannot explain to myself where the positive sample generated from.” A five-time Olympic medalist in cross-country, with two golds and three silver medals in previous Games, Sachenbacher-Stehle switched last year to biathlon.
Her best finish in Sochi was fourth place.
The Italian Olympic Committee said Frullani had been kicked out of the Games after testing positive for dimethylpentylamine. The four-man bobsled competition is Saturday and Sunday.
Sachenbacher-Stehle is the fourth biathlete to fail tests for banned substances in recent weeks. The others included two Russian athletes and one from Lithuania.
Coming up tomorrow:
(all times for Sochi; subtract nine hours for EST)
Alpine. The final alpine event of the Sochi Games, the men’s slalom, takes place under the lights at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center. The first run begins at 4:45 p.m., with the second run at 8:15 p.m. For the U.S. team, the competitors will be Ted Ligety (starting 16th in the first run), David Chodounsky (20th) and Nolan Kasper (31st). Skiing in the slalom for Canada are Michael Janyk (26th), Brad Spence (33rd), Philip Brown (38th) and Trevor Philp (42nd).
Cross-country. The last women’s cross-country event will be the 30km mass start freestyle race, which starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathon Center. On the start list for the U.S. are Elizabeth Stephen, Jessica Diggins, Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks. The Canadian starters are Amanda Ammar, Emily Nishikawa, Heidi Widmer and Brittany Webster.
Snowboard. Competition in snowboarding concludes with the men’s and women’s parallel slalom. The men’s final is at 1:59 p.m., and the women’s final at 2:58 p.m., both at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. U.S. rider Justin Reiter will be the only U.S. rider in the competition.