Ski cross standout Howden ‘nearly perfect’ in career-best performance

Reece Howden narrowly missed another podium performance in his stellar ski cross racing campaign, placing a career-best fifth in the small final at the world championships on Saturday in Idre Fjäll, Sweden.

The 22-year-old from Cultus Lake, B.C., has won three stops in his first full season on the World Cup and reached the podium in a fourth race.

“Today was almost perfect. I made one small mistake in the semifinals and that cost me getting into the big final and a chance at a medal,” Howden told Alpine Canada. “I came back, collected myself and skied well in the small final. I’m happy.”

Howden’s teammate, Courtney Hoffos of Windermere, B.C., was also pleased to put together a clean run and finish a career-high fifth in the women’s race.

In the women’s race, Courtney, at her first World Championships and in only her second season on the World Cup tour was happy to put together a clean run in the small finals after so much time on the course.

“I had some really good sections and skied well,” said Hoffos of her world debut in just her second season of World Cup action. “I tried to piece together a full run and I did that at the end, it was a good day.”

Deep program

Ottawa’s Hannah Schmidt, also competing at worlds for the first time, delivered a personal best 10th-place performance.

“I gave it all I had and felt pretty good. I had a really good qualification going into the heats today,” Schmidt said. “If there was maybe 50 metres more it would have been a different story, but that’s racing.”

The depth of the Canadian program was on display this week, with Kris Mahler (12th), Tiana Gairns (13th), and Zoe Chore (14th) also putting forth strong debut efforts at worlds.

“When you look at how many athletes experienced their first world champs and walked away with some newfound confidence, it makes me excited to see what we can accomplish as a team at the back end of the season,” head coach Stanley Hayer said.

“Reece and Courtney’s dominant fifth-place finishes will be used as motivation. We are a team, and we will succeed as a team.”

The Canadian athletes return to World Cup competition on Feb. 19 in Reiteralm, Austria.

Other results from Saturday:

Men: Brady Leman, 20th; Chris Del Bosco, 26th

Women: Marielle Thompson, 11th; Tiana Gairns, 13th; Zoe Chore, 14th

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