A first for ski cross in Vancouver
This Sunday for the first time ever, spectators will be able to watch ski cross in the Olympic Games. The men’s and women’s events, which form part of the discipline of freestyle, will celebrate their Olympic premiere on 21 and 23 February respectively at Cypress Mountain. Ski cross will feature four athletes racing a spectacular course, which includes turns, banks and jumps. Structures on the course resemble those found in snowboard cross events. Physical endurance and strength play a key role as athletes ski four to five runs lasting 60 seconds or longer.
Rip it up
Ski crosser Ophélie David from France, a six-time ski cross World Cup champion, explains: “Ski cross is like motocross, so you have to have a really fast start and ski aggressively all the way. Last year we raced on the Olympic course at Cypress Mountain. While it’s a great venue with superb views, the course itself is very up and down with a lot of jumps. You just get out there and rip it up. This is a great chance to showcase our sport to the world.”Jamaica in the starting gate
Although new to the Olympic programme, ski cross has existed since the early days of Alpine skiing competitions and, unsurprisingly, the majority of competitors have an Alpine skiing background. This is also true for Errol Kerr, a Jamaican ski crosser and Olympic Solidarity athlete. Yes, you have heard right: born to an American mother and a Jamaican father, Kerr grew up as a dual citizen between Lake Tahoe in California and Westmoreland in Jamaica. Jamaica’s latest winter star is hoping to put his country on the map in the new Olympic event. “It’s more than just a country,” Kerr said. “It’s in my blood, in my DNA.”From qualification into the finals
A timed qualification run is used to seed skiers into different heats, of four skiers each. The start, as well as the first sections before the first turn, are critical parts of the course, as passing can easily occur here. While other passing areas are designated on the course, interference with other skiers can lead to an athlete’s disqualification. The top half of the finishing field then moves on to the next round in a series of quarter, semi and final rounds.