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FLACHAU, AUT (Jan. 15, 2013) — Canada’s talented young slalom team showed its promise once again on Tuesday as Erin Mielzynski placed 10th and her teammate Elli Terwiel celebrated a career-best 17th-place finish in the Flachau World Cup night slalom in Austria.
Mielzynski, of Guelph, Ont. – the first Canadian since 1971 to win a World Cup slalom race – was visibly disappointed at the end of her second run, a clear sign of how far the 22-year-old has come over the past two seasons. Mielzynski was on the podium in her last slalom World Cup race – a third-place finish in Zagreb, Croatia – while the Canadian ladies’ slalom team is riding a hot streak, after three racers placed in the top 10 in that race, and four in the top 30 in Semmering, Austria, in December.
“Our expectations are very high right now,” said Mielzynski, who now has four career top 10 World Cup results in slalom, one of which was her historic victory in Ofterschwang, Germany, last season. “You have to set your sights high but I’m happy with 10th. In the end I’m happy with my day.”
Mielzynski placed 11th at the end of a solid first run but found herself two seconds back of the leader, Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch. In the second run she was lightning-fast at the top but lost some time lower down.
“I was a little disappointed with how I skied the first run and how far back I was,” said Mielzynski, who clocked a two-run combined time of one minute, 53.59 seconds. “I guess every race is an opportunity for a podium but after the first run I was really far back. It would have taken some amazing skiing to do that and I didn’t put that together. It’s always hard when you want to see the green (leader’s) light at the end of your second run.”
Mielzynski and the rest of the ladies’ slalom team, who spent the holiday season in Europe training and racing, enjoyed a mini-break in Egypt after the last World Cup stop before putting in three days of solid training.
“The level right now among everyone is really high,” Mielzynski said. You can see that with Britt (Phelan), and with how Elli did today. It’s a really high level. I think big things will happen but you have to take the steps to get there, too.”
Terwiel, a student at the University of Vermont, earned a career-best result on the back of a storming first run.
“I went from 45 to 21 in the first run,” said Terwiel, who had a two-run combined time of 1:54.65. “The only thing that was going through my head was that I had nothing to lose. You don’t win anything if you don’t try so I went for it. It’s a different mentality when you make the second run. I tried my (best) and I’m happy with it.
“Our team is extremely strong,” added Terwiel, who will now head back to North America to compete at the NCAA level. “Anybody can step up on any day. When you see a teammate go down and have a really strong run it’s (great motivation).”
Hugues Ansermoz, head coach of the Canadian ladies’ team, said it was another strong team performance – though the team remains hungry for more.
“The girls have been skiing incredible in training the last few days,” Ansermoz said. “We have a lot of weapons but for sure we are fighting for top five or six – that’s where Erin wants to be. She made some mistakes but still got top 10.
“For Elli, the first run was really, really good – it was like, ‘Wow.’ That was great to see. The second run was difficult for her but she did a good job and she can be very, very happy with her result.”
Brittany Phelan, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., had a solid first run – finishing 27th – and looked on track to extend her streak of top 30 World Cup results to a sixth straight race but she did not finish her second run. Marie-Michèle Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que., was skiing well before she straddled a gate and did not finish her first run. Ève Routhier, of Sherbrooke, Que., was unlucky when she lost her pole out of the start and did not finish her first run.
“Britt had a great start number for the second run,” said Ansermoz. “She took a risk and went out.”
USA phenom Mikaela Shiffrin delivered another thrilling performance to claim her third career World Cup race Tuesday after clocking a two-run combined time of 1:51.45. It was Hoefl-Riesch’s race to lose after she won the first run and built up a big lead in the second run, but she went out to hand gold to the 17-year-old American. Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter was second (1:52.30) and Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen was third (1:52.55). Shiffrin leads the slalom World Cup standings with 426 points, while Slovenian superstar Tina Maze – who was fifth Tuesday – is second with 355. Mielzynski is ninth in the slalom World Cup standings, with 177 points.
Next up for the ladies’ team are downhill and super-G World Cup races in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, this weekend.
Guay the top Canadian in training
Reigning world downhill champion Erik Guay was the fastest Canadian in training on a shortened course in Wengen, Switzerland, on Tuesday. Guay, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., finished 14th fastest – just over a second behind the fastest racer, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal. Jan Hudec, of Calgary, Alta., was 44th, Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, B.C., was 50th, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, of Vancouver, B.C., was 51st and Calgary’s John Kucera was 61st. Training runs are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a super combined World Cup race on Friday, downhill on Saturday and slalom on Sunday.
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