San Candido, Italy — The Canadian Press
Canada’s Brady Leman orchestrated a remarkable comeback from three separate broken legs, claiming gold in ski cross Saturday in his first World Cup appearance in two years. World champion Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., won the women’s gold on a four-medal day for Canada.
“I’m just happy beyond words,” Leman said on a conference call. “I’m still a little bit shell-shocked, I think, to come back and win the opening race. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to ski pain-free.”
Dave Duncan of London, Ont., won the men’s bronze, while Marielle Thompson Whistler, B.C., was third in the women’s event.
Leman, a Calgary native, has suffered three broken legs since 2009, derailing his chances to compete at the 2010 Olympics.
“Broken legs are tough, especially when you do it three times,” said Canadian coach Eric Archer. “But he’s had a lot of confidence in training this year, he hasn’t had any pain, and I think the third time was a charm to get it fixed right, and now we’ll just see where we go from here.”
Russia’s Egor Korotkov won the men’s silver.
The 25-year-old Leman led virtually from start to finish in the final.
“There’s been a lot of hard work over the past few years and it’s finally paid off,” he said. “It’s a big relief. I’m super pumped.
“It’s been just smiles a lot now when I get to the bottom of the hill, I’m not thinking about it at all, I’m not worried about the injury, I know it’s healed and I know I can focus on what I have to do to keep improving.”
Switzerland’s Sanna Luedi won the women’s silver.
Serwa is coming off a breakthrough season, winning both X Games and world championship gold.
“I couldn’t really ask for more,” said Serwa. “I qualified fast and kind of took that into the racing. Thanks to the techs, the skis took off as soon as they hit the snow today.”
Serwa and Thompson were at the front of the pack for the final before Thompson’s ski popped off. Thompson walked back up to the spot where she crashed to finish the race and claim her first World Cup medal.
“I closed my eyes and hoped for the best,” Thompson said of her crash. “I’m standing still, so hopefully our physios will fix me up and I’ll be good to go (Sunday).”
Serwa said she was thrilled to be part a four-medal day for Canada.
“Our team has always been really strong so to see more than one of us up on the podium isn’t uncommon,” Serwa said. “But it’s definitely awesome to see new people up there to show the strength and depth of our team goes further than one or two people.
“It’s nice to come to this first race and show the rest of the world what Canada has.”