Fairytale day for team Canada on home soil

What an emotional last day of racing it was on Saturday’s season final race here in Craigleith, Canada, where Canadas Brady Leman claimed another victory in the final race of his incredible career on home soil and Marielle Berger Sabbatel achieved her second career win. Swede Sandra Naeslund and Canadian Reece Howden were awarded with the crystal globes as best overall athletes of the FIS Ski Cross World Cup season 2022/23.

Weather didn’t look too promising in the beginning of the day as it was snowing all morning. Snow only stopped right before the last big final women of the season started and as it wasn’t enough also the sun came out.

Berger Sabbatel prevailed in last big final of the season

Saturday’s big final women saw previous day winner Fanny Smith (SUI), Marielle Thompson (CAN), Brittany Phelan (CAN) who had her comeback race after an injury the day before and Marielle Berger Sabbatel (FRA).

As the day before also in Saturday’s race world cup leader Sandra Naeslund (SWE) wasn’t starting because of knee problems and so it looked like Fanny Smith will also win the last day of the season. She was dominating every heat all day long and so she did in the big final.

She was some meters in front of her prosecutor when suddenly she made a mistake and crashed. This opened the door for Thompson and Berger Sabbatel to finally stand on top of the podium, as this spot was dominated by Naeslund the first nine races and Smith the last two races.

Also, Thompson tried everything to win on home soil, Berger Sabbatel overtook her in the middle section and skied to her second career win. Thompson got second and Brittany Phelan was more than happy to finish third after her injury.

Leman goes out in a blaze of glory

Two men who announced their retirement after this race and both of them in the big final. Doesn’t only sound like a fairytale it actually was.

We saw some really tight racing with a lot of action in Saturday’s race on men’s side and so did we in the last big final of the season. Next to our two retiring men Brady Leman (CAN) and Joos Berry (SUI) we saw Florian Wilmsmann (GER) and Youri Duplessis Kergomard (FRA) in the big final.

Duplessis Kergomard and Leman were fighting their way from the first to the final heat together with Leman winning two times and Duplessis Kergomard winning once. Wilmsmann won every single heat and showed some really good skiing as he already did the day before. Berry who wasn’t on the podium since two years was racing the race of his life until then.

So, the question was who of these four athletes will secure the last victory of the season. As Wilmsmann who was in the lead crashed in the upper part, it have been again Leman and Duplessis Kergomard fight for the win. It was a really hard battle between these two men all the way down to the finish. Leman who wanted to stand on top for the last time in his career against Duplessis Kergomard who tried to stand on top of the podium for the first time in his career.

The crowd, Brady Leman, his family and the whole Canadian team went crazy when Leman crossed the finish line first. This was probably the most emotional day of his career and the ending every athlete would wish for.

Duplessis Kergomard was a bit disappointed about his second place, but as he is only 26-years-old there is a lot more to come for him.

Berry who got third is the last race of his career was more than happy and couldn’t believe that he was able to end it like this.

Fourth crystal globe for Naeslund

Sandra Naeslund is our queen of ski cross. She not only won every single race she was competing in the last 15 month, but she also set two records this season. She is the athlete with most wins in a row in ski sport, in total seventeen and with 37 world cup wins, she is the ski cross athletes with the most world cup wins ever.

After Naeslund won her first crystal globe with just 21-years-old, she won it in in 2020, 2021 and now in 2023 for the fourth time. This is another record, as no one won the crystal globe more than three times before.

In second position in the overall ranking we saw Fanny Smith (SUI) and Marielle Thompson (CAN) achieved the third position in the overall ranking.

Howden takes home crystal globe on home soil

Reece Howden (CAN) who already captured the crystal globe after winning Friday’s race took it easy that he already went out on Saturday’s competition in the second run. It’s the second crystal globe for the only 24-year-old Canadian. First time he could call himself best athlete of the season was in the year 2021. He is such a big talent and we are really looking forward seeing him fighting for the globe the next seasons.

David Mobaerg (SWE) got awarded as second best ski cross athlete and the German Wilmsmann made it into third position in the overall ranking.

Next to the big globes also the Rookies of the year got awarded. Both globes went to Austria, in fact to Sonja Gigler and Mathias Graf. Unfortunately, both are injured at the moment and weren’t present in Canada.

Last but not least, to cap off the hugely successful season final for Canada, team Canada earned the nations cup trophy for the most successful team of the season 2022/23.

And that’s it for this ski cross season. We want to thank all organizers, volunteers, athletes and everyone involved for making it another amazing season to remember.

Congrats to all retiring athletes on their careers and all the best for the future! To everyone one else, we are looking forward seeing you all again next season!

FIS Press Release

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