Georgia Simmerling and Brady Leman each posted second place finishes in the first half of a World Cup ski cross double header scheduled for this weekend in Watles, Italy.
It is Simmerling’s second podium of the season, following a bronze medal at the last World Cup stop in Innichen, Italy just prior to Christmas. For Leman, it is the third time he has made it to the second step of the podium this season.
“Today was a good day,” Simmerling told Alpine Canada. “If someone had told me I would land two podiums in the first half of the season, I’m not sure I would’ve believed it. It feels great to start off the season so strongly. My coaches and I are looking forward to an even longer goal ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Games. This silver is a stepping stone but it was a super fun day of racing. I’m going to take my confidence from today and move forward into tomorrow. I’m excited to get back out there!”
Swede Sandra Naeslund placed ahead of Simmerling while German Heidi Zacher was just behind.
Simmerling has returned to ski cross after winning a bronze medal in track cycling at Rio 2016 as a member of the women’s team pursuit. That made her the first Canadian to compete in a different sport at each of three Olympic Games, following alpine skiing at Vancouver 2010 and ski cross at Sochi 2014.
“It feels awesome to be back on the podium!” Leman said. “It was a hard race today with difficuly heats and there was lots of passing. You had to fight each round to stay in the mix but I’m happy with second place. Things went really well today so I’ll stick with the game plan and roll it into tomorrow’s race. I’m excited for another chance.”
Swiss Armin Niederer took the victory with Frenchman Jean Frederic Chapuis placing third.
Canada’s ski cross strength was evident with five athletes finishing in the top eight. Overall women’s World Cup leader Marielle Thompson finished fifth after a costly mistake in the semifinal while Brittany Phelan, a recent convert from alpine skiing, earned a personal best World Cup result with her sixth place finish. Kevin Drury placed eighth in the men’s event.