Brady Leman captures gold in men's ski cross
Ski cross is known for its crazy crashes and unpredictability. Today was no different. Canadian Brady Leman won gold after leading the race the whole way. World Cup leader Marc Bischofberger took home silver. Olympic Athlete from Russia Sergey Ridzik finished with the bronze.
During seeding runs, it was revealed just how fast the course was running. The mid-section saw racers picking up a lot of speed into tight turns, with two skiers crashing in the seeding run. If athletes were crashing while skiing solo, it ensured there would certainly be crashes when four racers were competing at once.
The 1/8 final runs provide some of the most drama of the race because of the number of skiers. A good start can truly make it anyone’s day, just like a bad one can eliminate a potential medalist.
The first crash occurred in the second heat of the 1/8 final when Terence Tchiknavorian of France crashed. It was a non-contact crash as he just had too much air and got too far forward on a jump. He needed medical attention and had to be stretchered off. He was being evaluated for a possible broken tibia
In the fifth heat of the 1/8 final, it was a race for two spots between three fast favorites. Arnaud Bovolenta, who won silver in Sochi, was racing. World champion Victor Oehling Norberg was also racing. Finally, Canada’s Kevin Drury had the fastest seeding time of the heat. It was a clean race, and Norberg found himself on the outside looking in.
Crashes continues in the sixth heat of the 1/8 final. Christoph Wahrstoetter was leading the sixth heat until his skis collided with Erik Mobaerg. Mobaerg was losing control and actually contacted Wahrstoetter. The two went falling into the fence. It appears as though Wahrstoetter lost consciousness, which is why he fell to the secondary fence.
Mobaerg eventually got up and finished the race, but Wahrstoetter did not get back up. The 28-year-old was attended to for a long time by the medical team before eventually being stretchered off the slope. He regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital.
In the last 1/8 final, three-time Olympian Chris Del Bosco suffered a scary crash. He was attempting to make a move for second and instead lost control right at the bottom of a jump. There was nothing he could do as he was launched into the air. He would also need medical attention. On subsequent replays, it looked like he hit his head pretty hard. For the third time in just the 1/8 race, someone had to be stretchered off. Del Bosco was conscious, but a team therapist on-site mentioned a possible pelvis injury.
In the quarterfinals, crashes continued. Brady Leman and Marc Bischofberger advanced when Alex Fiva, the fastest qualifier of the day, crashed and made Austrian Adam Kappacher ski out of the course.
The final quarterfinal saw reigning gold medalist Jean Frederic Chapuis get knocked out. He finished last in his heat. There would be a new champion.
In the first semifinal, Leman and Bischofberger were behind at the start but made up for it. It was a fast, clean race with Leman and Bischofberger advancing to the big final.
In the second semifinal, Kevin Drury finished first. Drury had been skiing fast all day long. He made a magnificent move to climb from third to first in the race, finding a narrow window. Countryman Dave Duncan started well but faded as the race finished. The last possible Frenchman to advance to the big final, Bovolenta, finished a disappointing third. France would not be on the podium in any capacity in 2018.
In the small final, Filip Flisar took the early start, but he wouldn’t keep it. Armin Niederer overtook Flisar distanced himself from the rest of the heat. Bovolenta finished second. Flisar and Duncan finished third and fourth, respectively.
The big final would be contested between two Canadians, Drury and Leman, Switerland’s Bischofberger and Olympic Athlete from Russia Sergey Ridzik. Drury crashed near the top along with Ridzik. It became a two-man race for gold. Leman lead the whole race and never was really challenged. World Cup leader Bischofberger claimed silver. Ridzik was able to get up and take home bronze in his Olympic debut. Drury was able to cross the finish line and officially claim fourth.