SWEDEN – Canmore’s Kris Mahler raced to a 12th place finish at the 2021 Ski Cross World Championships in Idre Fjall, Sweden last weekend.
For the first time since 2017, Canadian skiers were held off the podium in a ski cross world championships. Despite not standing on the podium, Mahler remained upbeat about his performance, his first at the world championships.
“I know on paper the results don't shape up to much, but I'm happy with the outcome,” Mahler said in an email.
This year has not been as successful for Mahler in terms of results compared to last season, but his goal this year has been to ski consistently. He has recognized the importance of consistent skiing and is eager to translate that into wins.
“If I could win every race, I would, but that's just not possible in this sport. So I work towards a consistent level of skiing that will allow for the greatest possible chance for success.”
Four Canadian men and five women hit the slopes at the big course in Sweden under cold and blustery conditions.
In the 1/8 finals, Mahler finished second to Swede David Mobaerg. Mahler was first out of the gates and held on to the lead through the first intermediate, but was unable to retain his lead.
After being passed by Mobaerg, Mahler faced a nervous moment when he pulled up into the draft of the Swede, which required Mahler to make a last-minute move off the jump. With no time or room for Chris Del Bosco to change direction, there was forced contact.
“You never want to make contact with anyone, let alone your own teammate. The goal is always the finish line and if you're tuned in mentally getting hit or bumped doesn't even phase you,” said Mahler.
“I just kept my body moving forward in any way possible getting ready for the next big jump and was about to go off a second later.”
In the quarter-final, Mahler once again jumped out to the early lead. Halfway down the course, he lost a bit of speed and Sweden’s Erik Mobaerg and Austria’s Johannes Rohrweck squeezed past Mahler over a jump and advanced to the semis past the Canadian.
“It was a solid heat and it was hard to hold a lead down on the bottom of the course, you had to be perfect. Unfortunately, both athletes behind me used my draft to get in front and then pinched me out. I just didn't have the perfect run and my day was done.”
Reece Howden, this season’s world cup leader, was the top Canadian claiming a fifth-place finish in his first appearance at the world championships.
On the women’s side, Courtney Hofos was the top Canadian finishing in fifth, while 2019’s world champion Marielle Thompson surprisingly bowed out in the quarter-finals.
Mahler said his first appearance at the world championships did not feel entirely different than the prior world cup events. He is not sure if it is the events themselves or due to COVID-19 restrictions on fans to attend the races.
“We'll have to wait a few more years until the next one comes along to compare. It was a great experience and I'm pleased with 12th in the world for my first time at the world championships.”