Nakiska welcomes ski cross back in Canada

After a well-deserved Christmas break following the intense December tour with six races within ten days, the ski cross circuit is back on the road again. Hopefully, everybody had time to recharge the batteries and set full focus on the next stage at the #roadtobeijing2022.

We are currently out west here in Canada in Nakiska, Alberta. After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Canadian resort is now hosting the last two races that still count for the Olympic qualification. The Olympic qualification period had started on July 1, 2020 and lasts until January 16, 2022. So, this stop is the athlete’s final chance to book their Olympic ticket.

Seems to be quite the good timing too, since at the end of December and the beginning of January, Canada was hit by an arctic cold wave with temperatures leading up to minus 30 degrees Celsius. But fortunately, this extreme cold has passed and somewhat more normal temperatures are now welcoming the ski cross circuit in Alberta, ready to rock’n’roll.

Unfortunately, the event will be held without spectators on site, since it is the highest priority to have a safe event for everyone involved and with Covid-19 numbers rising worldwide, organisers want to minimize the risk. But rest assured, the ski cross show is going to be brought to your homes via TV transmission and livestreams, so you can cheer the athletes on from your couch.

But where have we left off?!

Well, there has been quite the head-to-head battle going on, on the women’s side of things. World Champion Sandra Naeslund (SWE) and winningest ski cross athlete Fanny Smith (SUI) had been neck-and-neck in almost every competition so far. Naeslund, however, was the more dominant athlete and managed to win five out of six single competitions plus the mixed-team event with teammate David Mobaerg in Arosa (SUI). Hence, the Swede is leading the World Cup ranking with 550 points.

Smith, who kind of has been the runner-up in almost each race, managed to take five second spots so far and is therefore sitting in second rank with 426 points at the Cup standings. The Swiss did definitely not sit still during the little Christmas break, but rather tried to figure out how to beat Sandra Naeslund in the upcoming competitions and, what’s probably more important, at the Olympic Winter Games, come February 2022.

Team Canada has presented two comeback-stars for this season. PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist, Brittany Phelan came back in an extraordinary shape, grabbing two podium spots in total and making it into the big final three times so far. That is how the Canadian was able to secure her third spot in the World Cup ranking. There is really nothing left to say than “chapeau” for such a strong comeback after almost two years of pausing from competition due to a heavy knee injury.

Speaking about knee injuries, teammate and Sochi 2014 Olympic Champion Marielle Thompson also was forced to abruptly end the last season due to a knee injury. Thompson re-entered the World Cup circuit only in Europe, leaving the Chinese test event out, but amazingly enough was able to jump back on top of the podium in Arosa (SUI) at the night-time sprint event.

Needless to say, that the entire Canadian squat will be coming in strong at their home race in Nakiska, especially when the Olympic qualification process is still on.

What else did we see this past November and December?

Well, on the men’s side of things, racing got pretty intense, resulting in six different winners, meaning a different male athlete stood on top of the podium at every race.

It was PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist Sergey Ridzik (RUS), who took the win at the Olympic test event in China. Olympic air does really seem to suit him well.

After that, back in Europe, Terence Tchiknavorian (FRA) claimed his very first World Cup win on home soil. The following day, World Champion Alex Fiva (SUI) made an appearance back on top of the podium.

Then, in Arosa it was Swedish athlete David Mobaerg who won the individual competition the first day and then the only mixed-team event scheduled this season, with his teammate Sandra Naeslund.

Going further to San Candido/ Innichen in Italy, tall Swiss athlete Ryan Regez claimed his first season win and on the second day of competition it looked as if the Swiss guy would repeat his victory, but in the end, it was Bastien Midol from France, who managed to cross the finish line first.

Due to his consistent racing and multiple appearances on the podium so far, Bastien Midol is now wearing the leader bib with 357 points. He is exactly 47 points ahead of his teammate Terence Tchiknavorian at the World Cup standings and sitting in third is Ryan Regez from Switzerland with a total of 212 points.

Will there be a new winner again at these next competitions? As we already mentioned, we should be expecting really strong appearances from the Canadian team. Nakiska is also the venue, where last year’s World Cup crystal globe winner Reece Howden (CAN) took his maiden win in 2020. To be repeated?? Better tune in and find out…

Nakiska title defenders from January 2020 are Sandra Naeslund (SWE) and Reece Howden (CAN).

You can of course follow via live timing on the FIS website or via FIS App. Finals will go down on January 14 and 15, both at 12:15 LOC/ 20/15 CET.

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