MEGÈVE, FRA, 16 JAN 2013 – After a qualification day that saw heavy snow, challenging conditions for athletes and organizers alike, and some necessary program adjustments, the clouds parted in Megève, France, and Wednesday's Audi FIS Freestyle ski cross World Cup went ahead according to its originally planned schedule.
For the first time this season World Cup ski cross fans were treated to a finals round that included 32 qualified ladies, as opposed to the more standard 16 racers. It's an arrangement that is standard for Olympic racing, but seen less in regular World Cup races. And, on Wednesday, it led to some amazing results.
Germany's Anna Woerner – yet to race this season as she recovered from injury – just squeaked into finals on Tuesday, qualifying 28th and looking tentative while doing so. On Wednesday, however, the Anna Woerner that showed up to race the challenging Megève course seemed to be an entirely different person, as she dominated every one of her heats before powering essentially unchallenged through the big final to claim her first podium in over a year and her first win in nearly two.
Following up Woerner was reigning world champion Kelsey Serwa (CAN), who pulled off what was easily the best pass of the day to land herself on the podium. Serwa looked more-or-less out of the race, trailing well behind in 4th place on a track that allowed limited passing. However, rather than throwing in the towel, Serwa bided her time and waited for an opening, first reeling in Alize Baron (FRA) on the lower negative turn, then out-pumping veteran Ophelie David (FRA) on the last roller section to slide into 2nd place.
David skied well to claim a podium on home soil. While it perhaps wasn't the result she would have liked considering her position with only one turn to go, it was, incredibly, the 50th podium of her career, and she was able to achieve the milestone in front of family, friends, and fans in the country that she reperesents.
for the first time this season, 32 women were qualified for finals racing, in a format that mirrors the one that will be employed at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014
Anna Woerner (GER) returned from a lengthy absence to claim her first podium in over a year and her first win in nearly two years
Kelsey Serwa (CAN) claimed runner-up, moving from 4th position to 2nd with some cagey maneuvering with only two turns to go in the race
- Serwa's result moves her into second in overall ski cross World Cup rankings, bumping David down to third
Ophelie David's podium was the 50th of her career, and it was the first time she was able to reach the podium on home soil in three French races this season
Another French racer, Alize Baron, placed 4th