Golden farewell: Brady Leman wins final World Cup skicross race of his career

Canadian Olympic champion Brady Leman couldn’t have ended his 15-year career in ski cross better than Saturday’s World Cup Final win at Craigleith Ski Club in the Blue Mountains near Collingwood, Ont.

Leman, who announced his retirement earlier this week, defeated Youri Duplessis Kergomard of France and Joos Berry of Switzerland in the men’s grand final.

“I am grateful for everything ski racing has shown me,” Leman, a former alpine racer, said in a statement released Tuesday by Alpine Canada. “So much has changed in skicross from when I started to today. I think I’ve been doing this for a long time, but the thrill of racing and winning has never gotten old.

“The biggest thank you goes to my parents who ignited the spark that fueled this amazing ride.”

The Calgary native and native also earned silver at the 2019 World Championship, gold at the 2016 X-Games and bronze in 2010, but will be best remembered for winning Canada’s first-ever Olympic men’s ski cross medal five years ago in Pyeongchang , South Korea.

LOOK | Leman skis to gold in final race:

Canada’s Brady Leman wins last ski cross race of his career

In storybook style, the Calgary native topped the podium in his last race before retiring.

The gold medal was sweet redemption for Leman, who placed fourth in the 2014 Olympic grand final in Sochi, Russia.

Leman returned to the Olympics in February 2022, placing second in the minor final and sixth overall.

“I would have loved to medal or win again, but I’m really proud of this race,” he told reporters in Beijing. “I’ve had such a tough last two years, with so many injuries and so many obstacles, and there were so many moments where I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to defend that medal and I did.”

On Tuesday, Leman added: “The successes have been rewarding, but most of all I will remember the time spent with my teammates whether it be training, matches or just hanging out. Those memories will always bring a smile to my face and are probably some I’m going to miss the most about ski racing.”

LOOK | Leman looks back on winning Olympic gold in 2018:

Brady Leman breaks his ski cross gold from Pyeongchang

Canadian Brady Leman reflects on his gold medal-winning ski cross race from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

Leman entered the 2021–22 season fully recovered from a knee injury sustained on February 27, 2021, in the Grand Finals in Bakuriani, Georgia, which concluded his season. After a slow start to the season – the three-time Olympian’s best finish was 13th – Leman found himself in silver medal position when he crashed on the penultimate jump.

One of his career highlights is a gold medal appearance from January 2019, his second victory at Blue Mountain in three years, where he triumphed over France’s Bastien Midol by 1.06 seconds in the grand final. Leman also won the 2012 and 2017 races at the resort.

A Crystal Globe as the overall season champion is an achievement that has eluded golf, mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts.

Leman placed third in 2016 and second the following season. When he was in position to make an attack for first place, he told CBC Sports in 2020, Leman would get distracted and constantly look at the standings to see how he was doing against the competition.

7th at world championships

“When you worry about the general classification all the time, you don’t focus race after race and that has had a negative effect on me in the past,” he said.

Leman entered this week’s competition with the aim of building on a sixth-place finish in the small final last weekend in Veysonnaz, Switzerland. On February 26, he placed seventh in the minor final at his seventh world championships after collecting bronze for his 31st podium in Italy on December 21.

“I’m hoping to finish on a high, so no victory laps for me,” Leman told The Canadian Press. “I’m going to try to win to the end.”

In the women’s grand final, it was a 2-3 Canadian finish with Marielle Thompson of Whistler, BC, beating teammate Britt Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que.

LOOK | Canada takes 2 places on the women’s skicross podium:

Canada’s Thompson and Phelan finish 2-3 in ski cross final

Marielle Thompson finished second, while Brittany Phelan crossed the line close behind her at the World Cup stop in Craigleith.

Thompson collected bronze on Friday.

Last month, she earned her third medal in seven World Championship appearances with silver in mixed team ski cross debut in Bakuriani, Georgia.

Saturday was the first podium finish of the season for Phelan, who won silver at the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She missed qualifying for the final of last year’s Winter Games by a photo finish.

In February 2020, she overshot a jump in Megève, France and landed on one leg, blowing out her left knee and missing a year of skiing.

LOOK | Thompson takes mixed team ski cross silver in Georgia Bakuriani:

Canada’s Reece Howden and Marielle Thompson earn silver at the World Mixed Team Ski Cross Championships

The pair placed second in the mixed team ski cross competition at the 2023 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships at Bakuriani Ski Resort in Georgia.

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