Canadian winter sport was dealt another devastating blow on the weekend, with the tragic death of snow cross racer Nik Zoricic on Saturday during a World Cup race in Grindewald, Switzlerand.
The 29-year-old Toronto native died after suffering head injuries after going off course and crashing.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve. He had a zest for life and competition and loved what he was he was doing — and it showed,” said teammate Dave Duncan. “He had a fire in his belly and he wanted to be successful.
“It’s going to be hard without him. He hasn’t just been a teammate for the last four years, he was my roommate. Everything’s different now – it’s not going to be the same.”
Although Zoricic did most of his training in Ontario, his death will be felt by the entire winter sport community. His death comes less than two months following the death of freestyle skier Sarah Burke.
“It’s been a tough season and when something tragic like this happens you almost want to harness the beautiful things in life,” said national alpine ski member Mike Janyk. “Standing up there and getting the chance to give your best in whatever that thing is, it’s one of the most amazing things you can do with your life. It’s something special.”
Following Zoricic’s crash, Saturday and Sunday’s races – the two final races of the season — were cancelled. As a result, Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., won the individual ski cross Crystal Globe, while Canada clinched the Nations’ Cup Crystal Globe as the top country on the circuit.
In more positive news, Christine Nesbitt won the women’s 1,000-metre event Sunday in Berlin, to clinch the season title for the 1,000m, after going undefeated in the distance this season. She also won the coveted Grand World Cup title and the $20,000 US that went with it, as the season’s best skater. To top it off, she broke the track record at Berlin’s Sportforum, a mark that stood for more than six years.
Nesbitt was also part of the Canadian team that won the women’s team pursuit, joining forces with Cindy Klassen And Brittany Schussler to take top spot.
In alpine skiing on Saturday, Marie-Michele Gagnon hit the World Cup medal podium for the first time in her career, taking third in a slalom event in Are, Sweden.
And in short track in Shanghai, Valeri Maltais won gold Sunday in the women’s 3,000m and bronze in the 1,000m, to go along with a silver medal for the women’s overall world championship crown. Her short track teammate, Olivier Jean took gold in the men`s 500m, with Charles Hamelin taking silver in the same event. Marie-Eve Drolet won bronze in the women’s 1,500m
Among some of the other medal performances on the weekend were: Mikael Kingsbury (gold, men’s dual moguls and silver, men’s moguls); Philippe Marquis (gold, men’s moguls); Olivier Rochon (bronze, men’s aerials); Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (silver, women’s moguls); and Jamie Gregg (gold, men’s 500m speed skating).