The Alpine Skiing community was left in shock a year ago on March 10th when news spread of the tragic passing of 29-year-old Canadian ski cross skier Nik Zoricic who passed away after a high-speed crash during a World Cup race in Grindelwald, Switzerland.
In a statement following his passing, Alpine Canada said: “Nik was a very talented young ski racer and a great athlete who was much-loved by his teammates and fellow competitors.”
Originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zoricic grew up fully immersed in the Ontario ski community as a member of the Craigleith Ski Club, where his father is a coach, and called Toronto home.
The void felt after his passing was big and in December, members of the Canadian ski cross team unveiled a blue jean-inspired race suit dedicated to the memory of their much-loved teammate.
Zoricic famously wore blue jeans in one of his first World Cup races because he didn’t have race pants and wanted to be as aerodynamic as possible. His teammates worked with a designer in the hopes of honouring Zoricic’s memory with pants that looked like the ones he originally wore and debuted them at the FIS Nakiska Ski Cross World Cup event December 6-8.
“This is the most excited I’ve been to put on a Canadian ski cross uniform,” said Dave Duncan, of London, ON, a close friend and teammate of Zoricic. “The jean style is in memory of one of Nik’s first World Cups where he raced in blue jeans – it looks like a regular pair of jeans with Canada emblazoned on it. It’s a way of keeping Nik with us.”
Top-five ranked athlete Brady Leman (Calgary, AB) shared the same sentiments as Duncan.
“It’s something that we talked about for a long time – even with him,” said Leman, who is ranked No. 2 in the world in men’s ski cross. “We wanted to do some sort of tribute and we were finally able to make the denim look happen – it’s awesome.”
And when these athletes compete at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in Voss, Norway on Sunday – exactly a year to the day of the accident – Zoricic will firmly be in their minds and in their hearts.
Canada will be entering a strong nine-person team that includes reigning world champions Chris Del Bosco (Montreal, QC) and Kelsey Serwa (Kelowna, BC). At the last World Championships in 2011 in Deer Valley, Canada skied to double gold and silver and will be hoping to own the podium once more.
“We are all going to try and represent for Nik by winning some medals,” said Chris Del Bosco.
Sunday’s race program includes qualification rounds followed by round of 32 heats for both men and women. The finals will be shown live on CBCSports.ca starting at 8:55 a.m. ET, before being broadcast on CBC at 3 p.m. local time and 4 p.m. in Ontario.
– George Fadel