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Condolences Nick Zoricic
The FIS Ski Cross World Cup in Grindelwald on March 10th, 2012 was overshadowed by the fatal accident of the Canadian Ski Cross athlete Nik Zoricic. Zoricic fell heavily just before the finish in the round of eight, crashing directly into the safety netting and thereafter lying motionless. Medical care was administered immediately by team doctors, with expert care by the Swiss emergency response team Air Glacier following within minutes. Despite the best efforts of all involved Zoricic died in hospital at 12:35 as a result of severe neurotrauma.
Zoricic, 29 years old, began his ski career as an Alpine athlete and switched later to Ski Cross. He achieved two podium places in his Ski Cross career (2010/11 and 2011/12) and was sixth in the overall standings in 2011.
After the tragic accident the Organisers decided to cancel the entire event in Grindelwald, including the remainder of Saturday's race and the World Cup Final on March 11th. The Organising Committee, FIS, and Swiss-Ski express their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Nik Zoricic and the Canadian Ski Team.
On Sunday, the Ski Cross world gathered on the hill in Grindelwald to mourn the death and pay tribute to the life of Zoricic. In a moving ceremony, skiers, coaches, staff, and officials from every nation racing on the World Cup tour came together at the top of the course where the tragic accident took place for a sombre remembrance of the sporting rival, teammate, and friend who had been lost.
Nearly everyone in attendance wore blue jeans in honour of Zoricic and his first race competing for the Canadian SX team in 2009. In that race, at future 2010 Olympic site Cyprus Mountain, he was provided with a race suit that didn't fit properly. Known for his sense of humour and playful irreverence, Zoricic elected to ski in his street clothes rather than face possible disqualification for using too-tight alpine race suit. It's a story that has become legendary within the ranks of Alpine Canada. On Sunday, it served to bring everyone that much closer together, Nik's blue jeans now serving as something of an international team uniform.
As everyone assembled, in their jeans, Zoricic's Canada Ski Cross teammates and coaches spoke to those gathered of Zoricic's love for the sport, of his love for the ski community, and of the importance of strength and camaraderie of the entire ski cross family to help them get over the horrors of what happened on Saturday. After a stark moment of silence, the Canadian squad then passed out black armbands for their peers to wear before, one-by-one, the nearly 200-person strong group dropped in for a ceremonial run down the Grindelwald track.
The procession made its way down the course with some, like World Cup SX Crystal Globe winner Filip Flisar, electing to slowly cruise their way through the bumps and turns and with others, like Zoricic's teammate Brian Bennett, choosing to honour his friend by zipping down the course, popping airs and throwing tricks. Some skiers stopped on top of certain features to wait for friends, or, to simply collect their thoughts and remember Nik. Over the second-to-last jump, all the Canadian skiers took to the air to pull what the team had designated Nik's signature move; a slightly laid-back scissor kick dubbed “The Fonz.”
As the procession reached the final jump and the site of Zoricic's horrific accident, the attendees slowed to take a rose from a basket perched on the edge of the final table top and then form a line stretching down the landing. At the bottom of the landing, just in front of where the desperate attempts to rescue Nic Zoricic had taken place the day before, was a picture of the athlete, and a wreath. One-by-one, again, all those who had come to do so were allowed a moment to honour the fallen athlete as they laid their flower at the foot of the photo.
Canadian SX head coach Erik Archer was the last off the course, and as he approached Nik's photo, the Canadian team walked up from the finish area to meet him. There, in front of the photo, the Canadian squad took a knee, wrapped their arms around each other's shoulders, and paied their respects to a teammate lost.
Finally, after the team rose and rejoined their colleagues in the finish area, a tribute to Zoricic was played on the video wall featuring highlights from his all-too-brief ski cross career. As the footage finished, the crowd broke into applause, giving one last ovation to the young man from Toronto by way of Sarajevo. Then, after a few more hugs and a few more tears, the World Cup Ski Cross family disbanded for the last time of the 2011/12 season, hearts heavy, and with one member less, but glad to have been able to take part in such a powerful tribute to such a well-respected competitor.
Chairman of FIS Freestyle Committee, Chris Robinson expresses his deepest symphaties:
“On behalf of the FIS Freestyle Committee I want to express deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Nik Zoricic. Our heartfelt thoughts also go out to the Canadian Ski Cross Team. Nik loved skiing and Ski Cross and lived to pursue his passion for the sport. He was a great competitor, teammate and friend who will always be remembered and missed so much by everyone who knew him”.
A Facebook page has been set up in memory of Zoricic. Those wishing to post messages and comments can follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/InMemoriamNikZoricic.
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