Zhangjiakou, China – For the first time since the sport became part of the Winter Olympics programme, Canada did not reach the top of the podium at the Women’s Figure Skating Cross on Thursday in Beijing. But not for lack of trying.
British-Colombian Marielle Thompson came from behind in the final moments of the race to take second place and take the silver.
This is his second Olympic medal after winning the gold at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Thompson was second only to Swedish and world champion Sandra Nyslund. Germany’s Daniela Mayer completed the podium in controversy, after a lengthy race review led to Switzerland’s relegation Fanny Smith.
Having been late for most of the race after a poor start, the 29-year-old Canadian made a bold move after she was just five, and slapped Smith to complete her comeback.
“I saw that in this undulating part, the two other skaters in front of me soared into the air. Thompson explained that I then realized that if I stayed on the ground and made a clean turn, I would have enough speed to outpace them. It worked.”
Thompson was even happier that she wasn’t able to do justice on her own at the Pyeongchang Games. After surgery on her right knee due to a torn ligament, she only had a few months to prepare and finished 17th.
His preparations were going well this time, until last March, when a second surgery on the same knee was necessary after a new ligament tear.
“With winter coming on, I didn’t know what I would look like against his girls because I haven’t raced in a while,” she said. I found my rhythm in December and built my confidence from race to race after that, bringing me here with the best skiing. Couldn’t ask for better.
“Sochi, I got there and I’m #1 in the world. It was my first game, so obviously this medal is special for me. But this process, after two big knee surgeries and all the work I had to do to get here, I feel great.” It is really good to know that all that hard work has paid off.”
However, Thompson was unable to bridge the gap created by Nyslund, who had been Imperial all day on the track at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou.
“It’s okay Canada didn’t win the gold: Sandra deserved it so much. She’s been so fast in every race, she deserves it so well,” Thompson said.
The tune wasn’t quite in tune on the third step of the podium, as Meyer found herself after a good ten minute race review.
Below the extension, after touching Thompson Smith while overtaking, Mayer’s right skate, then the fourth, touched the back of Smith’s left sled. The latter unbalanced and in doing so, accidentally collided with Mayer, who had to slow down so as not to fall.
Smith crossed the finish line in third, much to the chagrin of Mayer, who took so long to dry her tears and go on to congratulate her opponents, before taking the bronze minutes later.
Dazed and having accepted her fate, Meyer seemed to not believe that Smith had just been removed. She also referred several times to the Swiss, and shook her head “No,” as if to say that Smith should be on the podium during the solemn ceremony.
“It is a meaningless decision,” said Swiss coach Ralph Wafley. No cross-country athlete would do this on purpose, because Marielle Thompson didn’t intentionally bump into Fanny Smith moments earlier,” he said in French.
He added with French-speaking journalists that Switzerland had no intention of protesting.
“It wouldn’t be good for the sport. Don’t allow the athlete to pick up her medal at the party and take it away the next day when the decision is made.”
But for English-speaking journalists, he hinted that Switzerland could compete.
My bosses are studying what they can do. But all he will do is remove the yellow card from Fanny’s card. It will not change the order. »
Four Canadians in the top 7
The four Canadian women entered the competition and advanced to the semi-finals. However, only Thompson qualified for the Grand Final.
Quebec Brittany Vaillant won the small final for fifth place. Citizens Courtney Hofus and Hannah Schmidt finished sixth and seventh, respectively, ahead of Australian Sammy Kennedy Sim.
Phelan missed the final by three hundredths of a second, as Smith lost control of his skis and clipped the Mont-Tremblant native, preventing him from ending it in the end.
“You’re at the Olympics and everyone wants to be on the podium, but only three girls will do it,” said Pyeongchang silver medalist Phelan. I’m definitely a little disappointed. I was in hard waves all day and in the semi-finals I made a small mistake. Decide at the end of the picture. It’s a race. Everyone’s pushing too hard and I’ve come in a little bit. (…) At the same time, Canada took the podium and I will be back in 2026.”
For Schmidt, this Canadian squad in both finals proves the strength of the national cross-country ski program.
“There were seven girls (in Canada) fighting over those four spots. It shows the depth of our program.”
“It’s better to part in the waves, but at the end of the day it’s crazy to be with your teammates,” Hofuss added. I’m always happy to see my teammates progress if I can’t. It shows how strong we are. »
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