Snow and Olympic gold for Canada make return visit to Cypress Mountain
VANCOUVER — Two things happened Tuesday that Vancouver Olympic organizers might have liked to see more of: snow at Cypress Mountain and a gold medal for Canada.
Ski-cross racer Ashleigh McIvor, 26, of Whistler, B.C., embraced the woolly, white-out conditions and dominated the day, sailing effortlessly over the jumps in a well-executed series of qualifying runs before leading wire to wire in the final.
“I just felt really comfortable, and at home, obviously, and it’s a good atmosphere for me,” said McIvor, now the first-ever women’s Olympic ski cross champion after winning the sport’s Games debut at Cypress.
“I was pretty calm the whole way through, and just looking forward to each run. I was like, ‘Let me go, let me go.’”
The victory gives Canada six gold medals, to go along with four silver and one bronze.
Hedda Berntsen of Norway won silver while Marion Josserand of France took the bronze. Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., just missed making the final, but won the consolation final for an overall fifth-place finish.
Julia Murray of Whistler, B.C., finished 12th; Danielle Poleschuk of Winnipeg finished 19th.
McIvor is the defending world champion and won a World Cup silver medal on the Cypress course just over a year ago. She is ranked second in the World Cup standings.
Ski cross is a high-drama thrill ride that takes place on a course akin to a motocross track on the side of a mountain. Four skiers bash elbows and catch massive air as they rip down a track littered with huge jumps and turns. First over the line is the winner.
That’s provided they make it to the bottom.
Action was temporarily halted Tuesday after Russia’s Yulia Livinskaya crashed hard during the first heat of the elimination round.
Livinskaya, who qualified last in the 32-skier field, lost her balance in the air and landed awkwardly, sliding another five metres on her side before coming to a stop. Medics attended to her immediately. Details of her condition were not immediately known.
In qualifying, Ruxandra Nedelcu of Romania, who trains in North Vancouver, crashed heavily coming off the last jump and was also taken off the hill on a stretcher with an apparent leg injury.
She gave a thumbs-up to the crowd as she was taken away.
With the ski cross out of the way, Canadian sports fans were free to focus on the day’s main event — the men’s hockey qualifier pitting Team Canada against Germany with hometown goaltender Roberto Luongo in net.
Team Canada got back on track, thumping Germany 8-2 in a playoff to advance to a quarterfinal today against powerful Russia.
Ski-cross gold medallist Canadian Ashleigh McIvor poses with her medal during the medals ceremony in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday.