Brady Leman wins the last World Cup ski cross race of his career
Canadian Olympic gold medalist Brady Leman couldn’t have ended his 15-year ski cross career better than by winning Saturday’s World Cup finals at Craigleith Ski Club in the Blue Mountains near Collingwood, Ontario.
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’m so pumped! This is the best way to go out,” Leman told Alpine Canada. “I just wanted to leave everything out there today. It was a fight every lap and I fought hard all day. I got a bit lucky in the final but I had to declare an amazing career. I love racing, I’ve always loved racing!”
“Today was incredibly emotional,” added Leman. “There were some tears and a lot of emotion this morning but I tried to focus. I’m just so lucky to have my family and friends here and to be with my teammates.”
But the Calgary native, who won 2019 World Championship silver, 2016 X Games gold and 2010 bronze, will be best remembered for winning Canada’s first-ever Olympic men’s ski cross medal five years ago in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
CLOCK | Leman drives to gold in the final race:
The gold medal was a sweet release for Leman, who finished fourth in the grand final of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Leman returned to the Olympics in February 2022, finishing second in the small final and sixth overall.
“I would have liked to catch up on a medal or win again, but I’m really proud of this race,” he told reporters in Beijing. “I’ve had such difficult years in the last two years, with so many injuries and so many obstacles, and there were so many moments when I didn’t think I would have a chance to defend that medal and I have did.”
On Tuesday, Leman added in a statement released by Alpine Canada, “The achievements have been rewarding, but what I will remember most of all is with my teammates, whether it’s training, competing or just hanging out. These memories will always bring a smile to my face and are probably what I will miss most about ski racing.”
CLOCK | Leman looks back on winning 2018 Olympic gold:
Leman entered the 2021-22 season fully recovered from a knee injury he sustained on February 27, 2021 in the grand finals in Bakuriani, Georgia that ended his season. After a slow start to the season – the three-time Olympian’s best finish was 13th – Leman was in the Silver medal position when he fell on the penultimate jump.
His career highlights include a gold medal performance in January 2019, his second win at Blue Mountain in three years, where he prevailed in the Grand Final by 1.06 seconds over Bastien Midol of France. Leman also competed in the 2012 and 2017 races at the resort.
A crystal globe as the overall winner of the season is an achievement that has eluded the golf, mountain biking and hiking enthusiast.
Leman was third in 2016 and second the following season. When he was in position to fight for first place, he told CBC Sports in 2020, Leman would get distracted and constantly look at the standings to see how he stacks up against the competition.
7th place at World Championships
“If you’re worried about the overall result all the time, you’re not concentrating from race to race and that’s had a negative impact on me in the past,” he said.
Leman entered this week with the goal of building on a sixth place finish in last weekend’s small final in Veysonnaz, Switzerland. On February 26, he finished seventh in the small final at his seventh World Championships, after taking bronze for his 31st podium in Italy on December 21.
“I’m hoping to finish on a high note, so no lap of honor for me,” Leman told The Canadian Press. “I’ll try to win until the end.”
In the women’s grand final, the Canadian finished 2-3 with Marielle Thompson of Whistler, BC ahead of teammate Britt Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que.
CLOCK | Canada takes two places on the women’s ski cross podium:
Thompson took bronze on Friday.
“I wanted to top what I did yesterday and I managed to do that so I’m pretty happy,” Thompson told Alpine Canada. “I think I could have done a bit more today but I’m happy to share the podium with Britt. She’s had such a long comeback from injury, I’m super proud of her.”
Last month, she earned her third medal in seven World Championship appearances with a silver in her mixed-team ski cross debut in Bakuriani, Georgia.
Saturday was the first podium of the season for Phelan, who won silver at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She failed to qualify for the finals of last year’s Winter Games in a photo finish.
“I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out,” Phelan told Alpine Canada. “It’s been a tough couple of days getting used to the bigger, faster track, so today I just wanted to ride like I normally do. I tried to take good corners and be patient and it worked out pretty well.”
In February 2020 in Megève, France, Phelan shot over a jump and landed on one leg, distending her left knee and missing a year of skiing.
CLOCK | Thompson Takes Silver in Mixed Team Ski Cross in Bakuriani, Georgia: