Friday 21 February 2014

Part Roller Derby, Part Drag Race

"Marielle, she's so calm.  I wish I had her nerves." (Eric Archer, ski cross coach)

Marielle Thompson sat in her Whistler living room four years ago and watched fellow Canadian Ashley McIvor win gold in ski cross in Vancouver.  She loved the giant jumps and the tight turns in ski cross.  Some call it part roller derby, part drag race.  It's pure excitement.  From that moment on, Marielle set her sights on Sochi.

On a cloudy day, with a light drizzle, the ski cross racers lined up at the top of the mountain.  The spectators waited in anticipation below, ready to watch a sport that is a real crowd-pleaser.  Canadians Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa stood in the gate with Swede Anna Holmlund and France's Ophelie David.  Down the hill they raced, Marielle and Kelsey skiing so close together they were almost touching.  Marielle's dad waited at the bottom of the hill, his heart pounding.  Marielle crossed the finish line first, her dad commenting:  "I'ts so hard to believe.  I can't even fathom it."  Kelsey followed claiming the silver.  Sweden claimed the bronze.  The crowd erupted in a chorus of "O Canada".

Marielle fulfilled her dream, duplicating Ashley McIvor's performance.  Kelsey, despite enduring knee surgery only a year ago, dominated the race as well.  Congratulations, ladies!  You've made Canada proud!

Canada's silver medalist Kelsey Serwa, left to right, and gold medalist Marielle Thompson celebrate their win following the Ladies Ski Cross final at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.

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