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SCHLADMING, AUT (Feb. 16, 2013) — Canada’s up-and-coming young ladies’ slalom team had its hopes of earning a first world championship podium dashed on Saturday as Marie-Michèle Gagnon and Erin Mielzynski finished 13th and 17th in Schladming, Austria.
With Elli Terwiel placing 28th and Brittany Phelan ending up 30th, Canada had four racers in the top 30 but coaches and athletes alike were hoping for more as a very talented but relatively inexperienced ladies’ technical team came up against its first major event test after two highly-promising seasons on the World Cup circuit.
“Coming into world championships we had some great preparation, so it’s a big disappointment for it to end like this,” said Hugues Ansermoz, head coach of the ladies’ team. “It’s the first time we’ve experienced being in the situation of being a medal contender.
“This is a big lesson but the biggest races are a year from now (the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games). We need to do some things differently than we did here if we want to have a chance of winning medals in Sochi. We need to be better.”
Gagnon, of Lac Etchemin, Que., was eighth in Thursday’s giant slalom and carried that momentum into the first run Saturday – finishing eighth on a course set by Canadian coach Jim Pollock to leave herself right in the mix for the second run. In her second run she felt like she skied well but she lost time at the bottom of the course and ended up dropping down to 13th with a two-run combined time of one minute, 41.70 seconds.
“I think I maybe skied a little bit too pretty. I needed to charge a little more in some places,” Gagnon said of her second run. “I mean, it is the story of my season – I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I need to learn to really attack every run – not just (focus on) the technical points of skiing. I think that’s my lesson from today – especially here, you’ve just got to charge.”
Gagnon has been skiing well in recent weeks and is hoping to carry that form into the rest of the season.
“I went home before world champs and I was able to recharge my batteries and now I’m ready to work,” Gagnon said. “I thought I skied well when I came down (at the end of the second run). I guess I don’t know all the times I’m fast.
“It’s still not bad. Top 15 is not bad – it’s not the end of the world. I’m still happy with everything and I’m happy with my eighth place in GS. There’s some good, positive stuff.”
Mielzynski, of Guelph, Ont., has been skiing superbly in training and in sections of races and appeared ready to push for her second podium of the season.
“Both runs I didn’t ski the way I’ve been training all week and I have to find out what that reason is, take that lesson and move forward,” said Mielzynski, who was tied for 17th after the first run. “My skiing felt better, especially up top, in my second run. I lost a lot in my precision.
“The slalom was disappointing in every way,” added Mielzynski, who had a two-run combined time of 1:42.24. “The biggest thing on my mind right now is that I need to put in as much work as I can from this point forward so that Sochi goes the way I want it to go and I ski the way I want to ski.”
Seventeen-year-old USA phenom Mikaela Shiffrin put together two consistent runs to take gold with a two-run combined time of 1:39.85. Shiffrin was third after the first run and then put together the fourth-fastest second run of the day to take top honours. Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser, who was sixth after the first run, was second in 1:40.07, while Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter – the first run leader – was third in 1:40.11.
Terwiel, of Sun Peaks, B.C., was 30th after the first run and spent a few brief moments in the leader’s box after being the first racer out of the gate in the second run.
“It’s always fun to be in the leader’s box. Too bad it didn’t last longer,” said Terwiel, who clocked a two-run combined time of 1:45.06.
“I’m not happy with how I skied but I think it’s a different thing to step up and perform at world championships. It will be a really good experience for me to bring into the next races and into next year. I could have done a better job but at the same time I didn’t make too many huge mistakes.”
Phelan, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., is in the midst of a career year but found herself on the wrong end of the flip when she finished 33rd after making a big mistake near the top of her first run.
“I had a pretty big mistake again but it was rougher conditions,” Phelan said of her second run. “From my start number I think I went about it the right way – a couple of mistakes here and there, but I couldn’t expect miracles.
“Our team didn’t put together the results we were expecting and hoping for,” added Phelan, who had a two-run combined time of 1:46.14. “It’s onto the next race – we definitely didn’t ski to our potential.”
Next up is the final event of the world championships, Sunday’s men’s slalom.
FEB. 16, 2013 – SCHLADMING, AUT – FIS ALPINE WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS – LADIES’ SLALOM
WATCH IT ON TV: CBC will be broadcasting Saturday’s ladies’ slalom at 4:30 p.m. ET today. Sunday’s men’s slalom will be screened on CBC at 12 p.m. local time or 1 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca.
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