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Canada’s Gairns, Howden capture World Cup ski cross bronze medals

Canada’s Tiana Gairns and Reece Howden both skied onto the podium at a World Cup ski cross event in Veysonnaz, Switzerland, on Sunday.

Gairns, of Prince George, B.C., concluded the women’s big final behind gold medalist Fanny Smith of Switzerland and silver medalist Jade Grillet Aubert of France for her first World Cup medal.

“It feels pretty darn good,” a grinning Gairns told Alpine Canada following her her fifth consecutive top-10 finish and sixth in 10 races this season. “It’s a little bit of a relief too. I feel like I’ve been pushing towards that podium for a while now so cracking into it and getting on there feels really good.”

Fellow Canadian Marielle Thompson, of Whistler, B.C., finished fourth and was among five Canadian women in the top eight, with Courtney Hoffos (Windermere, B.C.) sixth, Ottawa’s Hannah Schmidt seventh and India Sherret (Cranbrook, B.C.) eighth.

“It was pretty cool having four Canadians together in the semis,” said Gairns. “It helped me relax and got rid of some of the nerves. It felt more like a training heat and took some of the pressure off knowing that two of us were going to go through. I was lucky enough to be one of them.”

Thompson is third in the women’s overall standings with 524 points.

Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund is the runaway leader (900), while Smith (541) sits second.

In the men’s big final, Howden, of Cultus Lake, B.C., crossed the line after winner David Mobaerg of Sweden and Ryo Sugai of Japan.

Howden leads the men’s overall World Cup standings with 596 points. Mobaerg sits in second, trailing Howden by 57 points. 

Calgary’s Brady Leman advanced to the small final and ended his day sixth, while Toronto’s Kevin Drury was ninth, followed by teammates Kris Mahler (Canmore, Alta.) 13th and Jared Schmidt (Ottawa) 17th.

The final World Cup races of the season starts on Friday in Craigleith, Ont.

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