Gold medalist Kelsey Serwa, left, and silver medalist Brittany Phelan both of Canada celebrate following the women’s ski cross final at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Gold medalist Kelsey Serwa, left, and silver medalist Brittany Phelan both of Canada celebrate following the women’s ski cross final at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Gold for Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa

Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

Four years ago, Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa came close to gold at the Olympics in Russia.

Thursday at the PyeongChang Olympics she left little doubt she is the best women’s ski cross racer in the world, claiming the gold medal in thrilling fashion, backing up the silver medal she earned in Sochi.

Serwa led a one-two Canadian finish atop the podium, out-racing the field, and closing out the event with her training partner Brittany Phelan, on her hip, claiming silver.

In three elimination races during the medal round, Serwa won two of them outright and placed second in the other, with Phelan the only skier faster.

But in the final Serwa, raised on the slopes of Big White, jumped out of the gates and took a lead, never looking back and claiming the gold in front of friends and family.

Related: Serwa cheering parties in Kelowna

The gold medal is the culmination of years of hard work and battle to overcome injuries for the popular Kelowna skier.

After growing up as a competitive alpine skier, Serwa, 28, switched to ski cross before the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and burst onto the scene, competing for podium spots almost immediately.

She narrowly missed the podium at the 2010 games in Vancouver, finishing fifth, but then claimed the silver medal in Sochi. She has also overcome three knee surgeries that have hampered her career at times.

Serwa grew up skiing the slopes of Big White. Her grandfather Cliff is one of the founders of the ski hill and was there to witness the gold medal run, along with his wife, Serwa’s parents and her boyfriend.

Canadian women have now won each of the three gold medals in women’s ski cross since it became an Olympic sport at the 2010 Olympics.

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