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Canada takes top two spots in women’s ski-cross final

AFP-JIJI

Marielle Thompson narrowly edged out Canadian compatriot Kelsey Serwa to win the Olympic women’s ski cross title at the Sochi Games on Friday.

The two Canadians, who seized control of the race from the start, gave their country a third gold and silver double in the freestyle skiing events.

Sweden’s Anna Holmlund took bronze after French veteran Ophelie David had a crash that took her out of medal contention.

“I’m really glad our freestyle team has been so successful here. It’s so great that we can finish it off with a bang,” said Thompson, after Canada also had one-twos in both men’s and women’s moguls.

Serwa, the 2011 world champion, added: “It’s the water. We just have a really good program and we’re really supportive of each other and push each other.

“We’ve been watching each other all week and getting fired up every time Canada gets on the podium.”

The medals ensured Canada finish atop the freestyle skiing table with four golds, one more than the United States.

For Thompson, women’s World Cup champion in 2011-12, it was even better to be standing alongside a friend and teammate on the podium.

“I’m really, really excited, I’m so glad I get to share this moment with Kelsey up here.

“It’s amazing for our country. I’m so proud I could bring it home to Canada and keep it in Canada.”

Four years ago in Vancouver another Canadian, Ashleigh McIvor, won gold. She is now retired.

Serwa very nearly did not make it to the final as she trailed at the back of her semifinal until the last jump.

Only a mistake by reigning world champion Fanny Smith of Switzerland, who had been leading the semifinal until losing her balance, allowed Serwa to sneak into the final.

“In ski cross anything can happen. I never give up until I cross the finish line,” she said.

“That was just one of the works that was in play there. I was in fourth out of the start and all the way down to the last turn.

“One of the girls fell in front of me so I avoided her and at that point it was just a race to the line.”

Holmlund won Sweden’s first ever medal in ski cross and its first in freestyle skiing for 20 years.

“It’s really special, the first medal in ski cross for Sweden. It’s a good beginning for us,” she said.

“Of course you want to win a medal (but) the competition is really hard. It was harder and harder for every race I still don’t realize I have a bronze medal.”