Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Prince George ski cross racer posts best-ever World Cup qualifying result

24-year-old veteran qualifies sixth, will get choice of lanes for Saturday's race in Reiteralm, Austria

Gavin Rowell was on top of his game Thursday on the World Cup ski cross slopes in Reiteralm, Austria.

The 24-year-old from Prince George qualified a career-best sixth in his first of two runs, then posted a ninth-place finish in the second qualifier.

With heavy snowfall expected on Friday, the schedule was changed and the Friday race was moved to Saturday. The second run on Thursday will be used to determine the start order in Sunday’s race.

In each qualifier, Rowell was the fastest Canadian in the 55-skier men’s field. That ended a string of unsatisfying results this year on the World Cup tour for the former Prince George Alpine Ski Team racer.

“It was quite sloppy, quite slushy, and when you throw 60 guys down that thing at higher speeds with all the bumps it’s pretty rough but I was able to find some lines that worked through it and it seemed to work,” said Rowell.

“I did some Europa Cup races a couple weeks ago so I was pretty used to these bad conditions. I didn’t qualify in the top-32 the last five World Cups, so it was nice to come back and just have it work.”

His sixth-place result give Rowell lane choice for his race on Saturday (4 a.m., CBC Sports).

“This just gets you into the show, we’ll see how the race pans out,” said Rowell. “But proving you have the speed on the track is super-important. I’ll have a red bib for being in the top eight and this will be the first time I get first pick (of lanes).”

In his first run Rowell posted a time of 1:11.70, less than a half-second behind top qualifier Youri Duplessis Kergomard of France, who finished in 1:11.17.

The World Cup race next weekend in Germany has been cancelled due to a lack of snow. Rowell will come back to Canada to train in Calgary for nine days before he heads back to Europe for the final two World Cup stops in March in Veysonnaz, Switzerland and Idre, Sweden.

Tiana Gairns of Prince George is back on skis after missing the entire season with a knee injury. She’s currently racing in the U.S. on the North American Cup circuit.