Thompson and Teller take Val Thorens
VAL THORENS, FRA – The second of back-to-back Audi FIS ski cross races in Val Thorens (FRA) went off more or less without a hitch on Friday, as a big week of make-up events for competitions lost to poor snow conditions in other parts of Europe was completed on the World Cup tour.
While the preceding day's race was halted after the first set of heats due to heavy winds and snow, Friday's event was met with clearing skies and abated winds. There was a brief course hold early in the race as a bank of low clouds pushed over the competition area, but that cleared after a few minutes and the remainder of the race took place as scheduled.
The ladies' event was won by Marielle Thompson (CAN). Thompson placed 6th in Wednesday's qualification, but proceeded to positively cruise through Friday's finals, winning every one of her heats by a significant margin before again waltzing to victory in the final. The win widened Thompson's lead on the ski cross leader board to 48 points, moved her into 3rd place on the World Cup overall, and placed her firmly in the position of gold medal favourite with just a few weeks left before ski cross takes to the slopes of the Sochi Olympics.
2nd place went to the break-out star of the 2013/14 season, Katrin Mueller (SUI). Mueller's result was her third podium of the season and her second podium out of three races held at the Val Thorens venue in 2013/14. Features of the size and scope of those at Val Thorens will only be seen again this season in Sochi, so Mueller's performance at the French venue seems to set her up nicely for the upcoming Games.
Ophelie David (FRA) took 3rd, as the veteran registered the best performance by a skier from the host nation while proving that, at 37-years-old, she is still in the hunt for a medal come Games time. Behind David was Sami Kennedy-Sim (AUS), who came all the way from the 30th qualification spot to power herself to the best result of her career.
The men's event was taken by John Teller (USA), in what was essentially a make-or-break situation for the big US athlete ahead of the Sochi Games. While Teller has been the leader of the US ski cross team for several seasons, a disappointing campaign thus far into 2013/14 had him on shaky ground with only Friday's event left in which to prove himself. That he did, battling from the 8th qualification spot to win heat after heat before topping a stacked final.
That final featured three of the top five men on the Audi World Cup ski cross tour in 2013/14, in Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE), David Duncan (CAN), and Brady Leman (CAN). Norberg has been on an absolute tear since the second race of the season, with five top 10s and three podiums in those five races. Claiming 2nd in Val Thorens, he now sits 2nd also on the ski cross World Cup leader board.
1st on that leader board belongs to Duncan, who, with his 3rd place in Val Thorens, now has podiums in three straight races and is likely only the skier hotter on the tour than Norberg. With today's result combined with back-to-back wins in Innichen/San Candido, Duncan now has 310 points to Norberg's 305.
4th place on the day was Leman, who now sits in 5th on the World Cup leader board.
While Val Thorens was the last stop on the Audi ski cross World Cup tour before the end of the Olympic qualification period, there remains one more race before the Games get going, in Kreischberg (AUT), from January 24-25.
Full ladies' results can be found HERE
Ladies' ski cross leader board can be found HERE
Full men's results can be found HERE
Men's ski cross leader board can be found HERE