FLACHAU, AUSTRIA (Dec. 20, 2011) – Canada’s talented young technical skiers delivered another set of results that made the rest of the ski world sit up and take notice Tuesday as Marie-Michèle Gagnon and Erin Mielzynski finished ninth and 14th in the night slalom in Flachau, Austria.
Gagnon, 22, showed further glimpses of her huge potential with a hard-charging effort that gave the native of Lac-Etchemin, Que., her first top-10 result of the 2011-12 World Cup season. Mielzynski, of Guelph, Ont., tied the best World Cup result of her career with a 13th-place finish in the slalom in Courchevel, France, on Sunday, and the 21-year-old followed it up with another top-15 finish on Tuesday.
Although Anna Goodman, of Pointe Claire, Que., didn’t qualify for the second run Tuesday, her 11th-place result in Courchevel means Canada has a group of slalom racers who are skiing well and look ready to contend.
“It’s exciting. The other teams are looking at the Canadian team now,” said Hugues Ansermoz, head coach of Canada’s ladies’ team. “The results are, for sure, coming a little bit faster than I expected.
“Last year the girls were just making the top 30 in the first run and then having great second runs. This year, they are starting to have good first runs as well, which is much harder to do.”
Gagnon was tied for 11th after the first run but felt she didn’t attack the course as much as she would have liked. In the second run she had the fifth-fastest time at the second interval. A mistake in the middle section appeared to cost her some time but she recovered well and finished with a two-run combined time of one minute, 53.69 seconds. Austrian ace Marlies Schild clocked a combined time of 1:51.53 to seal victory. Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch was second (1:51.99) and Slovenia’s Tina Maze was third (1:52.35).
“It’s funny. I’m really happy with the result but this year I want more. I keep wanting more,” said Gagnon, who is currently ranked 12th in the world in slalom. “I’m slowly getting my start numbers down. It’s getting really exciting but I know I can do more. I think I still have to learn to really go for it.”
Mielzynski made her World Cup debut in 2009 and is still a relative newcomer on the tour, but this was her third World Cup race in Flachau and she felt confident enough with the course to take an aggressive approach from the start.
“I know this hill and I just wanted to attack the whole way down,” said Mielzynski, who is tied for 18th in the world in slalom after Tuesday’s result. “I think I did that both runs and I didn’t make as many mistakes. I’m learning every time.
“I’m really happy. Things are just starting to feel like they are coming together.”
Ansermoz was delighted with what he saw from Gagnon and Mielzysnki.
“On the first run (Gagnon) felt she didn’t attack as much as she did the last two races but she still had a very solid run,” said Ansermoz. “On the second run she made a mistake but she came back and had a very good run.
“Erin, she attacked, and she had a great attitude. Finishing 13th and 14th in the last two races, that’s a huge step forward for her. It’s really too bad about Anna. She can be right there with the other girls.”
Goodman was 35th after the first run and missed out on qualifying for the second run by 0.22 seconds. Elli Terwiel, of Sun Peaks, B.C., and Marie-Pier Préfontaine, of Saint Sauveur, Que., and did not finish their first runs.
“It’s good to be able to train together and push each other,” Gagnon said of Canada’s women’s technical team. “I’m pumped for Erin. You could see in Courchevel that we are a team that attacks. We just have to put it all together.”
COMPLETE RESULTS - Dec. 20 – Audi FIS Alpine World Cup – Flachau, Austria – women’s slalom
Next up is the men’s World Cup slalom, also in Flachau, on Wednesday. Julien Cousineau, of Lachute, Que., has bib No. 20, while Brad Spence, of Calgary, Alta., goes 27th.
Calgary’s Trevor White has bib 34 and Paul Stutz, of Banff, Alta., will start 40th.
ABOUT ALPINE CANADA ALPIN
Alpine Canada Alpin is the national governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada. With the support of valued corporate partners along with the Government of Canada, Own The Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, world championship and World Cup medallists to stimulate visibility, inspiration and growth in the ski community.
Director, Communications | Directeur des Communications
Alpine Canada Alpin
#153, 401 – 9th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2P 3C5