Canada's McIvor wins ski cross gold

Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:05pm EST
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By Deborah Charles

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada's Ashleigh McIvor shrugged off the pressure, falling snow and a fierce battle with her rivals to easily won the women's debut ski cross on Tuesday.

As the crowd of nearly 4,400 roared and held up letters spelling out "Go Ash Go," McIvor sped across the finish line well ahead of the pack.

She threw her arms in the air as the flag-waving crowd went wild. Then she screamed, jumped up and down and pumped her fist into the air.

"This is just the most amazing moment in my entire life," an ecstatic McIvor told reporters. "It's in my hometown pretty much -- what more could I ask for?"

Norway's Hedda Berntsen won the silver medal and France's Marion Josserand took bronze after pre-race favorite Ophelie David of France crashed out in the quarter-finals.

David, 2010 X Games winner, surprised herself and the crowd when her medal hopes vanished after she tangled with team mate Josserand.

"I made too many mistakes," said David, who struggled with her starts all day.

The final race was fought out between the three medalists after Austria's Karin Huttary got stuck near the start of the course.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Ashleigh McIvor (C) leads France's Marion Josserand (R) and Norway's Hedda Berntsen en route to taking the gold medal in the women's ski cross finals during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 23, 2010. Berntsen took silver and Josserand bronze. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>