Gagnon posts more top-10s ahead of Sochi 

Whistler's Janyk skis to 21st during World Cup slalom in France

click to enlarge PHOTO BY PENTAPHOTO / COURTESY OF ALPINE CANADA - Great Gagnon Marie-Michele Gagnon races to a sixth-place finish in the World Cup slalom held Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Courchevel, France.
  • Photo by Pentaphoto / Courtesy of Alpine Canada
  • Great Gagnon Marie-Michele Gagnon races to a sixth-place finish in the World Cup slalom held Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Courchevel, France.

As the Canadian Alpine Ski Team looks to end a 20-year Olympic medal drought this winter in Sochi, Marie-Michele Gagnon is starting to show she's got as much potential as her male teammates to do it.

With a sixth-place finish in the women's World Cup slalom held Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Courchevel, France, the 24-year-old now has five top-ten finishes in eight races this year, and she's spread them out over three different disciplines.

"I'm showing consistency. I'm excited," said Gagnon, who now sits 11th in the chase for the overall Crystal Globe. "I really feel like I'm in a magical moment right now."

The Quebec native sat eighth after the opening run on Tuesday but moved up two spots with a quick second session.

That capped off a strong weekend for Gagnon, who was sixth in the super-G at St. Moritz, Switzerland on Dec. 14 and on pace for a podium in a GS at the same venue before skiing out just four gates from the finish the following day.

"Everything is going according to plan and I'm building," said Gagnon. "I was almost there two days ago in St. Moritz — almost a podium. I didn't think I would be getting top-10s in super-G, that was a nice surprise.

"The main thing is to be consistent. I'm proving to myself that I can push and still finish."

Marlies Schild won Tuesday's stop in Courchevel, as the Austrian held off Sweden's Frida Hansdotter and sister Bernadette Schild for the victory. Canadian skier Brittany Phelan finished 27th.

Marie-Pier Prefontaine placed 19th in the GS at St. Moritz for the top Canadian finish, while Larisa Yurkiw was 34th in super-G from Switzerland.

The women's World Cup tour remains in France this week for a downhill and GS at Val d'Isere on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21 and 22.

JANYK 21st IN VAL D'ISERE SLALOM

Whistler's Mike Janyk battled through a stomach bug in his World Cup slalom race held Sunday, Dec. 15 at Val d'Isere for a 21st-place finish.

Teammate Julien Cousineau, meanwhile, showed a return to form by finishing 18th.

Janyk made the flip in 27th place after Run 1 despite the illness, and then skied a quick top section while posting the eighth-fastest second run and moving up several spots on Sunday.

"I was pretty green this morning," Janyk said following the race. "In my runs I had no power at the bottom.

"First run I was touch and go but made it down. Second run I found some energy. There were good top sections on both runs but for me personally it was a mixed bag."

Cousineau was the only other Canadian skier to finish in the points Sunday and the result marked his first time finishing in the top 30 in two years. Janyk said the fellow veteran's finish is a sign of good things for the Canadian technical group.

"We are really building back here," said Janyk. "We are training really well. Now we have to bring that fire into the races."

Austria's Mario Matt captured the win, with Sweden's Mattias Hargin taking silver and Italy's Patrick Thaler placing third. Janyk will head into the holiday break ranked 23rd in the discipline and head coach Martin Rufener thinks the 10-year World Cup veteran has more to give.

"Mike is able to get close to the top but needs to find another gear," said Rufener.

In giant slalom racing from Val d'Isere on Dec. 14, Canada's Trevor Philp finished a career-best 27th, earning World Cup points for the second GS in a row.

Janyk's next race comes Jan. 6 at Zagreb, Croatia. The Canadian speed team returns to action this weekend at Val Gardena, Italy, with a super-G on Friday, Dec. 20 and a downhill the day after.

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