The rebuilding of an aggressive, take-some-risks attitude continued Thursday for ski cross racer Kelsey Serwa as the 2011 world champion from Kelowna finished just off the podium at a World Cup in Telluride, Colo.

Serwa, who missed a good chunk of last season after tearing up her left knee in a crash in France in January, qualified just 15th fastest among the 16 women to advance to heat racing. But she won her four-racer quarterfinal and was second in her semifinal – just the top two in each heat advance.

A mistake in the final on the rollers right out of the start scrubbed some of her speed and she had to settle for fourth behind Fanny Smith of Switzerland, Ophelie David of France and Anna Holmlund of Sweden.

“I tried to make a pass at the last turn, but I got pinched out a little bit,” said Serwa, who was ninth at the season-opening World Cup at Nakiska in Alberta last week. “I’m happy taking risks now and not worried about my knee.

“I’m not too focused on results. I’m focused on building confidence, getting back into race mode. Getting into finals was a big step up. It would have been nice to be on the podium, but I’m okay with (my day).”

Marielle Thompson of Whistler, last season’s World Cup champion, finished eighth after a fall in the consolation final.

In the men’s race, Brady Leman of Calgary earned Canada’s first podium of the season with a second-place finish behind Filip Flisar of Slovenia in a tight, exciting duel that needed a photo finish to decide the top three.

Leman, second in the overall standings last season, won his opening round-of-32 heat and his quarterfinal and was second in the semifinal. In a stacked final that featured the four fastest qualifiers, he tied to make an early pass on Flisar, bobbled and was fortunate, he said, to hang onto second at that point.

“Today was good to build the confidence and take home some hardware. I felt like I was skiing well, skiing fast. It’s where I want to be in every race, in the final and fighting for gold.”

Dave Duncan of Whistler looked to be on his to a semifinal, but landed on the back of teammate Ian Deans’ skis off a jump in a quarterfinal and spilled in a pileup that also included Journi Pellinen of Finland. He got up and finished second, but was disqualified for missing a gate, a decision the race jury later admitted was wrong after it reviewed video.

CROSS COUNTRY: Canadian stars Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw were 11th and 17th Thursday in a 15-kilometre classic mass-start race at a World Cup in Canmore, Alta.

“I had to be smart today,” said Harvey, who had just returned from some high altitude training earlier in the week. “I didn’t feel that good in my warm-up, so I kind of expected it to be a hard day. It was a fight all the way.”

Tim Tscharnke of Germany earned the victory in a time of 41 minutes, eight seconds, one second ahead of Sjur Roethe of Norway. Harvey, of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., was timed in 41:35.0, Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., in 41:59.4 and Ivan Babikov of Canmore, who was 20th, in42:13.9.
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