Brady Leman conquers struggle and heartbreak wins gold in Olympic ski cross
PYEONGCHANG ' The day that Brady Leman became an Olympic gold medallist was much like his ski cross career.
A late addition to the Canadian team for Vancouver 2010 at 23 years old, Leman crashed in training and broke his leg the day before the race. Four years later in Sochi, he survived the war of attrition that is ski cross to make the final, only to finish fourth. The three Frenchmen who beat him that day were later accused of cheating by freezing their pants. (Seriously. This happened.)
Leman knew the Winter Games only for struggle and heartbreak.
His third Olympics started much the same way. Leman, 31, of Calgary, crashed hard in a training run on the treacherous course at Phoenix Snow Park and had to be, he said, 'taped back together' by the team's medical staff. In his first qualifying run on Wednesday morning, he lost a pole, had what he called a terrible start, but managed to hang on for a respectable finish.
And then, as racers crashed all over the course, most spectacularly teammate Chris Delbosco, who misjudged a jump, was sent soaring airborne, and windmilled his arms before landing hard in a fall that sent him to hospital, Leman found himself back in an Olympic ski cross final again.
It would, surprise, include a big crash, but this time it was Leman who would still be on his skis at the end of it. Olympic Athlete from Russia Sergey Ridzik clipped Canadian Kevin Drury in mid-air, and the two went down in a pile. Leman was focused on holding his speed through a tricky feature of five bumps, and when he came out the other side of it, 'the next thing I knew I had nobody in front of me.' Leman didn't know that two of the other four finalists were tangled in a heap, but with the sun behind him on a bright afternoon, he could see the shadow of one racer ' Marc Bischofberger of Switzerland ' staying close to him.....
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