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June 1, 2012. 11:51 am •
Canada named it’s 2012-13 ski cross team Friday.
It’s a formidable group. There are four men and four women, all of them already medal winners on the World Cup circuit.
Whistler’s Ashleigh McIvor, the 2010 Olympic champion and Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa, the reigning world champion, are both hoping to come back from injury.
Whistler’s Marielle Thompson, only 19, will be out to defend the Crystal Globe she won as the overall World Cup leader last year. Calgary’s Danielle Poleschuk, who is returning after missing last season due injuries.
The men’s team consists of reigning X Games and world champion Chris Del Bosco of Montreal and Calgary’s Brady Leman, who placed second in the overall World Cup standings last season. Dave Duncan of London, Ont., hit the podium twice last year. In his first whole season on the World Cup circuit, 22-year-old Tristan Tafel of Canmore, Alta., got his first victory.
“We have very strong programs on both the men’s and women’s side and we have set some big goals for the coming season,” Alpine Canada director of sport for ski cross Dave Ellis said in a release.
“We want to remain No. 1 in the world and will be gunning for a men’s or women’s overall title again.”
Canada has won the Nations Cup as the overall circuit’s top team four straight years. Defending that title is important, but there are other fish to fry this season.
“It’s a world championship year and we will be going for more podiums there,” Ellis said.
“We are also into the Olympic qualification cycle so the pressure starts to build from here. When Ashleigh returns we will have three world champions and eight athletes who have had World Cup podiums. We’re looking forward to having everyone back.”
Naming the men’s team wasn’t easy. Toronto’s Nik Zoricic died after a crash at a World Cup race in Grindelwald, Switzerland, last March.
”It’s been tough naming an all-star team without the inclusion of a great friend and teammate to us all, Nik Zoricic,” Ellis said. “Nik will be dearly missed on the circuit but he will live on with us all in spirit as we continue to push forward in the quest for podiums.”
Three members of the 2011-12 team have retired – Julia Murray and Davey Barr of Whistler and Quesnel’s Brian Bennett. Stan Ray, another Whistler skier has decided to take up freeskiing.
But the pipeline continues to flow. Former World Cup alpine racer Louis-Pierre Helie of Berthierville, Que., will do ski cross this year and will start the season with the team’s prospect training group. That squad includes West Vancouver’s Georgia Simmerling, another ex-alpine racer who made two World Cup ski cross starts last year and 2012 NorAm champions Ian Deans of Kelowna and Mariannick Therer of Saint Sauveur, Que.
Eric Archer returns as head coach.