The margin between victory and defeat can be agonizing at the top levels of sport, as Reece Howden was reminded.
The Cultus Lake skier hit the slopes Feb 10-13 at the Idre Fjäll Ski Resort in Sweden, competing in the FIS Freestyle Ski Cross and Snowboard Cross World Championships.
Howden, the World Cup points leader heading into the event, looked to cement his status as the top ski-cross athletes on the entire planet.
The 22-year-old was on track to do that with first-place finishes in his first two races. Howden matched up against Francois Place (France), Alex Fiva (Switzerland) and Johannes Aujesky (Austria) in the sem-final, and that’s where his medal hopes ended.
Making what he described as “a small mistake,” Howden placed third behind Place and Fiva, the margin less than two seconds. While those two moved on to the ‘big’ final and a shot at gold/silver/bronze, Howden was relegated to the ‘small’ final. He bounced back to best Germany’s Niklas Bachsleitner and the Austrian duo of Aujesky and Johannes Rohrweck, placing fifth overall.
No small feat for a world championship, but not what he wanted.
“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,” Reece told Alpine Canada. “I came back and recollected myself and skied well in the small final. I’m pretty happy. Just can’t make mistakes, it’s tough racing but ending on a good note.”
Howden has been a force on the World Cup circuit this season, despite being one of the younger competitors. He has won three races and placed second in a fourth and entered the world championships as the World Cup points leader.
Howden was the top Canadian skier at the world championships. Kris Mahler was 12th, Brady Leman 20th and Chris Del Bosco 26th.