Ski Cross Team Dedicates Crystal Globes to Nik Zoricic

Members of Canada’s ski cross team raised their glasses and two Crystal Globes in honour of their beloved teammate Nik Zoricic in Grindelwald, Switzerland, on Sunday night. Zoricic, 29, of Toronto, Ont., passed away Saturday after suffering head injuries in a crash at a World Cup race in Grindelwald.

Saturday’s race was subsequently cancelled, as was Sunday’s – the final race of the 2011-12 World Cup season. International Ski Federation (FIS) rules say that in the event of a race cancellation, points are awarded according to qualifying positions, meaning Canada wins the Nations’ Cup Crystal Globe as the top-performing country on the World Cup circuit for the fourth successive year.

Marielle Thompson, 19, of Whistler, B.C., also becomes the first Canadian to win an individual ski cross Crystal Globe. Brady Leman, of Calgary, Alta., was leading the men’s overall standings prior to this weekend but after finishing 14th in qualification on Friday, he was passed by Slovenia’s Filip Flisar, who won the qualification round and takes the men’s Crystal Globe.

“I’ve got one large silver case in front of me with a Nations’ Cup that we are happy to bring back to Canada once again for the overall best team in the world. I have a smaller case with the first Crystal Globe for an individual athlete for Marielle Thompson,” said Dave Ellis, director of sport for Canada’s ski cross team, during an emotional conference call from Grindelwald on Sunday.

“This is not the best way to have a trophy presented to you but tonight at dinner we will pull out the Globe and have a toast for Nik. We’ve been in constant contact with his father, a very strong man. He said to make sure we celebrate and carry on the tradition of winning and podiums for Nik, as we always have.”

Canada finishes the 2011-12 World Cup season with 2,093 World Cup points. Second-placed Switzerland has 1,794 and France is third, with 1,595. Thompson tops the ladies’ rankings with 590 points, with French veteran Ophelie David close behind in second with 530 points. Switzerland’s Katrin Mueller finishes third, with 423.

Flisar won Friday’s qualification round and picked up 100 points due to Saturday’s cancellation, compared to 18 for Leman, which allowed the Slovenian to move to the top of the men’s rankings with 482 points. Leman finishes close behind in second with 443. Switzerland’s Alex Fiva is third with 434 points, while world champion Chris Del Bosco, of Montreal, Que., is fourth (396). Zoricic is ranked 16th.

Leman posted a message on Twitter Sunday, which said: “Women’s overall World Cup champ, Men’s 2nd overall, Nations’ Cup champs. All #fornik we love & miss you.”

Eric Archer, head coach of Canada’s ski cross team, confirmed Sunday that next month’s Sport Chek Ski Cross Canadian Championships will go ahead in Nakiska, Alta., as planned. “We’ve got a great group of staff and we’ve got a great group of kids – men and women – and they know what Nik would want us to do, and that is to not let this knock us down and keep him with us,” said Archer during the conference call on Sunday.

“We will have our nationals and it’s going to be in his honour. We will be back up there. They will be fighting for a national title.” The national championships will take place in Nakiska from April 6 to 7.

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