Audi ski cross World Cup Montafon set to open 15/16 season
Marielle Thompson and Brady Leman lead the way on Friday, topping their respective fields in a strong qualification day for the Canadian squad ahead of Saturday's Audi ski cross World Cup Montafon (AUT).
The top qualifying result for Thompson was especially impressive given that Sochi 2014 gold medalist missed most of last season after injuring her knee at the Kreischberg 2015 world championships. In her first run back in competition, Thompson, wearing bib 13, laid down a time of 58.41 - more than half a second faster than last season's crystal globe winner Anna Holmlund's (SWE) time of 58.96.
Just behind Holmlund was last season's second-overall skier, Alizee Baron (FRA), with a time of 59.87, while world champion and homestown favourite Andrea Limbacher finished qualification in ninth.
Voss 2013 World Champion and 2012/13 crystal globe winner Fanny Smith (SUI) crashed in qualification run, injuring the shoulder she damaged last season. Reports suggest that Smith broke her collarbone and will be out of competition until at least January.
On the men's side of things we saw qualification as tightly-contested as any ever held on the World Cup circuit, with the top 32 men separated by only 1.52 seconds.
Leman was the only skier to break the 56-second barrier on the day, locking in a time of 55.99, just ahead of a surprising performance by Austrian skier Robert Linkler's 56.10 and Victor Oehling Norberg's 56.31. Last year's World Cup overall winner Jean Frederic Chapuis ended qualies in eighth, while 2015 world champion Filip Flisar finished the day in 10th.
Finals action gets underway on the flowing, panoramic Montafon track today at 11:00 CET with the men's round of 32, followed by the ladies' quarter finals. With big crowds expected and course that has been enthusiastically - and nearly unanimously - praised by the athletes on hand, everything is shaping up to make the season-opening Montafon Audi ski cross World Cup event one to remember.