Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Experienced and Confident Canadian Skicross Team Gunning for More Hardware

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Experienced and Confident Canadian Skicross Team Gunning for More Hardware

Article excerpt

Expectations high for Canadian skicross team

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Stanley Hayer noticed the Canadian skicross squad started to act more like a team in his first year as head coach last season.

One of his top priorities is to maintain that chemistry during the upcoming season now that Olympic qualification is on the horizon.

"If we can improve the mental side of this team and their approach and their attitudes a little bit, the results will come," Hayer said. "It's not so much our skill level. It's there. It's the team dynamic and the work ethic and the professionalism, all this kind of stuff that (was) not missing, but missing as a group. We found that last year.

"So that's the biggest goal, to keep that going."

The season kicks off this week with the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup in Val Thorens, France. Qualification is set for Thursday and races go Friday and Saturday.

The Canadian women's team is strong once again this year. World No. 2 Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., and Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., are back along with Georgia Simmerling of West Vancouver, B.C.

Thompson and Serwa finished 1-2 at the Sochi Games in 2014 while Simmerling reached the Olympic podium last summer in Rio. After breaking her wrist on the slopes last year, she took up track cycling and helped Canada win bronze in the team pursuit.

"We have big expectations for the women's team," Hayer said. "With Kelsey healthy, Georgia back, and Marielle skiing better than ever, it's an unbelievably strong team for the women's side."

Chris Del Bosco of Montreal and Brady Leman of Calgary -- ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the world last season, respectively -- anchor the Canadian men's side. They're joined by Toronto's Kevin Drury and Dave Duncan of London, Ont.

Leman was remarkably consistent last season and it helped him to a breakthrough year.

"It was nice to finally be where I thought I should be because a lot of the time I was banging my head against the wall for lousy events or performances that were subpar in my books," he said. …

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