Thompson the tentative favourite in ladies ski cross

21 February 2014 05:53
Marielle Thompson (CAN) hopes to keep the momentum in Sochi
Marielle Thompson (CAN) hopes to keep the momentum in Sochi -
GEPA Pictures

The ladies ski cross event will close out the freestyle skiing programme of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Friday morning, and after the end-to-end excitement that was the men's competition, expectations for the women are high.

While the men's competition was the clearest possible example of the unpredictable nature of ski cross racing, with the top five athletes of the 2013/14 World Cup season failing to even make it through to the semifinal, greater disparity between the higher and lower ranked ski cross women should mean a more logical progression through the event.

Marielle Thompson (CAN) comes in to Friday's event as the favourite, with two wins, four podiums and seven top five finishes through seven races in the 2013/14 world cup season.

Thompson typically has the strongest start of any woman in the field, and on a Sochi course that features a long, straightaway rhythm section to start things off, she should shine.

Thompson's teammate Kelsey Serwa (CAN) won the Sochi ski cross World Cup race held on the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course last year, and if her recently repaired knee is in decent form she should again challenge for the podium.

The strong Swiss team will have something to say about all this, though, as 2012/13 world champion and overall ski cross World Cup winner Fanny Smith (SUI) and 2013/14 second overall ski cross racer Katrin Mueller (SUI) are both fast and strong technically.

One of the key performances to watch on Friday will be that of Ophelie David (FRA). At 37-years-old, David could become the oldest woman to win an Olympic Winter Games Gold medal. And as she comes in to Sochi 2014 competition hot off a win in a World Cup event at Kreischberg, it is not an unreasonable expectation to place on her.

An Olympic medal of any colour would be the last piece of hardware David needs to complete her trophy collection. With a world championship win, seven ski cross overall titles, four X Games Gold medals, and 55 career World Cup podiums, she has won everything there is to win, save the biggest prize of them all.