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Canada's Leman, Simmerling earn silvers at ski cross World Cup event

Leman, Simmerling earn silvers in ski cross

WATLES, Italy — Calgary's Brady Leman and Vancouver's Georgia Simmerling both earned silver for Canada on Saturday at a ski cross World Cup event.

It's Leman's third podium finish of the season and Simmerling's second.

"It feels awesome to be back on the podium," said Leman. "It was a hard race today with difficult heats and there was lots of passing. You had to fight each round to stay in the mix but I'm happy with second-place. Things went really well today so I'll stick with the game plan and roll it into tomorrow's race. I'm excited for another chance."

The Canadian team has been a dominant force on the World Cup ski-cross circuit this season. Saturday was no exception with five athletes finishing in the top 10.

"Today was a good day," said Simmerling. "If someone had told me I would land two podiums in the first half of the season, I'm not sure I would've believed it. It feels great to start off the season so strongly. My coaches and I are looking forward to an even longer goal ahead to 2018 PyeongChang Games. This silver is a stepping stone but it was a super fun day of racing. I'm going to take my confidence from today and move forward into tomorrow. I'm excited to get back out there!"

Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que., scored her second personal-best finish of the season with a sixth-place finish.

On the men's side, six Canadians qualified for the eighth-final heats. Leman started the day joined by fellow teammate Ian Deans of Kelowna, B.C., in his eighth-final heat but only Leman had the speed to advance to the quarter-final round.

Montreal's Chris Del Bosco and Toronto's Kevin Drury made up two of the four spots in one eighth-final heat where both athletes advanced to the quarter-final round. In the quarter-finals, Del Bosco had a slow start and made a costly error that knocked him out of the race, while Drury lead the majority of the way down the track and advanced to the semifinals.

In a close finish, Dave Duncan of London, Ont., advanced from his eighth-final heat to the quarter-finals, making it four Canadian men heading into the quarter-final round of competition. The day ended for Duncan at the quarter-finals where he finished third in his heat.

In the semifinal round, Drury narrowly missed out on qualifying for the big final but advanced to the small final where he finished in eighth-place after a crash took him out of the running.

Switzerland's Amin Niederer won the men's title, with Leman in second and France's Jean-Frederic Chapuis finishing third.

On the ladies' side, the quarter-finals saw Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., and Simmerling in the same heat. Both advanced to the semifinals where Thompson made a costly mistake and failed to advance to the big final round. Simmerling advanced onto the big final where she took silver.

Phelan started making moves in the quarter-final where she finished in second-place, advancing through to the semis, eventually finding herself in the small final where she finished just behind Thompson for sixth.

Sweden's Sandra Naesland won the women's title with Simmerling in second and Germany's Heidi Zacher in third.

The Canadian Press