The bosses of ski cross shred Sun Peaks
Kelsey Serwa and Marielle Thompson will be fierce rivals on the mountain when World Cup ski-cross racing season gets underway next month.
It’s a different story when the boots come off, though.
The two speed demons — who were training at Sun Peaks Resort with Alpine Canada’s female ski-cross team from Nov. 14 to Nov. 18 — get along just fine.
“What happens on the hill kind of stays on the hill,” said Thompson, a 19-year-old from Whistler.
“We’re all pretty good friends.”
Thompson and Serwa were neck-and-neck at the Sport Chek Ski Cross Canadian Championships in Lake Louise in April.
The Whistler product edged Serwa — the reigning X-Games and world champion — at the line to earn gold and claim her place atop Canada’s heap.
“Kelsey and I have talked about that race a few times,” Thompson told KTW.
“I kind of shocked myself when I did it. It was like, ‘Whoa, how did I do that?’”
Serwa, a Kelowna product whose grandfather co-founded Big White Ski Resort, said there are no hard feelings between the two counterparts, despite the constant competition.
“No one’s goal is to finish in second or third place and, obviously, I want to win all the time, but I’m realistic so I realize it’s not going to happen,” Serwa said.
“It’s great to see my teammates on top of the podium, too.”
Georgia Simmerling of Vancouver and Mariannick Therer of Saint-Sauveur, Que., joined Thompson and Serwa at Sun Peaks earlier this month.
Rounding out the national female ski-cross team are Ashleigh McIvor, who won ski-cross gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Julia Murray and Danielle Poleschuk.
The latter three are nursing injuries and did not attend the training camp at Sun Peaks.
Willy Raine, who has coached the team for four years, has never been forced to mediate any serious disagreements or fights between teammates.
“They are competitive for sure but, at the same time, they respect that they will not win every single day and every single race,” said Raine, the son of prolific Canadian skiing champion Nancy Greene Raine.
“They encourage each other and push each other. It’s kind of an if-one-wins-they-all-win attitude.”
This is the first year the team chose Sun Peaks as a pre-season training destination, but it likely won’t be the last.
“It has proven to be very good and we’re definitely interested in coming back here and even building a small course on a run like 5 Mile.”
When John Crichton was hired as Sun Peaks Alpine Club’s program director in 2010, he said attracting high-profile national teams to the resort was on his to-do list.
The Canadian ski-cross women shared the mountain with the Austrian female and Swedish male downhill teams, so Crichton is off to a good start.
San Candido, Italy, will host the season’s first World Cup ski-cross event on Dec. 17.
Serwa, Thompson and the crew have moved training sites, from Sun Peaks to Nakiska, Alta., where they will wrap their pre-season preparations.
Trips to Whistler, Chile and Switzerland preceded the training sessions at Sun Peaks.
The women will spend this season vying for the same gold medals at World Cup events across the globe, pushing each other toward success.
“When I’m having a tough go and maybe not doing as well as I’d like to, I like to see my teammates on the podium and know that I can be there, too,” Serwa said.
“You don’t get jealous, you just get motivated.”