02/03/2013 11:38 EST | Updated 04/05/2013 05:12 EDT

Canadian freestyle skier Tristan Tafel wins silver in World Cup ski cross

GRASGEHREN, Germany - Canadian freestyle skier Tristan Tafel reached the podium for the first time this season on Sunday, using an aggressive finishing push to secure a silver medal at a World Cup ski cross event.

Tafel was in third place behind Victor Oehling Norberg for most of the final. The 22-year-old from Canmore, Alta., made a desperate lunge after the last jump and crash-landed his way across the line to edge the Swede.

"I'm ecstatic to get second, it's a great feeling," said Tafel. "To make a final pass where I had no time or room, I'm pretty pumped about that."

Tamas Kraus of the Czech Republic won gold.

Tafel won his first World Cup race last season in Bischofswiesen/Goetschen, Germany. On Sunday, he tried to keep the pressure on his Swedish competitor late in the race.

"I just pulled on the draft really hard and reached for my life," Tafel said. "My left ski caught some soft snow and I spun out just after I crossed the line. I looked up and saw I had come second, it was pretty exciting."

Brady Leman of Calgary was fifth. Alex Fiva of Switzerland retained the overall lead despite finishing sixth.

With five events remaining, Fiva has 424 points, one more than compatriot Armin Niederer, who cut the gap by finishing fourth. Kraus is third overall, followed by Leman and John Teller of the United States.

Tafel is 14th in the overall standings.

Ophelie David of France won the women's event, with Germany's Christina Manhard in second place and another Frenchwoman, Marielle Berger Sabbatel, taking third spot.

Georgia Simmerling of West Vancouver, B.C., crashed at the finish and settled for fourth.

Fanny Smith of Switzerland maintained her overall lead despite finishing 13th. Smith has 416 points, with David next at 371 and Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., at 301. Serwa sat out Sunday's race.


With files from The Associated Press.