Feature photo: Chris Del Bosco (centre) leans in to beat the field at the opening 2015-16 World Cup race in Montafon, Austria on December 5, 2015 (Photo: GEPA Pictures for FIS).
Canada’s ski cross racers couldn’t ask for a much better start to the season as Chris Del Bosco and Brady Leman won gold and silver while Marielle Thompson captured a gold of her own at the opening World Cup stop in Montafon, Austria.
Entering the day as the fastest qualifier, Leman looked dominant, winning each of his heats until he reached the final, where he had to battle Del Bosco as well as reigning world champion Filip Flisar of Slovenia and Olympic champion Jean Frederic Chapuis of France. The two Canadians jumped in front with Del Bosco just holding off his teammate at the finish for his 20th career podium, but his first World Cup win since January 2014. Flisar took the bronze.
“I was feeling really great all week and had some close calls in the earlier rounds,” Del Bosco told Alpine Canada. “I knew it would be a battle when I met Brady in the final, but I managed to get a great start out of the gate. I knew Brady would be coming on strong through the course but I just kept my head down and got him by a little bit.”
“I’ve been skiing really well and had lots of confidence going into the final,” said Leman. “Del (Bosco) just rocketed out of the start and I almost caught him in one section but I’m super happy with the one-two finish. It’s a great way to go into the season.”
Olympic champion Thompson also looked extremely strong after posting the fastest time in qualification and then dominating each of her heats heading into the final. There she faced a tough challenger in Olympic bronze medallist Anna Holmlund of Sweden, but Thompson was able to make a strong pass near the finish for her fifth straight World Cup victory, dating back to last season. This was also her first major international race since suffering a knee injury at the world championships in January.
“It’s such a good feeling to start the season off with a bang like this and know I’m in a good place coming back from injury,” Thompson told Alpine Canada. “To have the lead again is exciting and to share it with Brady and Chris is a great start for Canada.”
Next week the circuit heads to Val Thorens, France where Thompson was victorious last season.