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Canadian skiers cool off in Europe

J-P Roy joins injured list, Goodman in top 10

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team followed their explosive weekends in Lake Louise with average performances in France and Sweden. The highlight was technical skier Anna Goodman placing in the top 10 for the first time in her career, while the lowlight was the knee injury to giant slalom hopeful Jean-Philippe Roy that could put him on the sidelines through the Olympics.

According to a report from Alpine Canada, Roy crashed on the bottom section during his first run.

"It wasn't a big crash but he was ejected from his skis and the injury occurred," said coach Paul Kristofic.

Roy flew back to Canada on Sunday for further assessment of the injury. He may require surgery for a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. While it's possible he could return this season, it's doubtful he will be back in the lineup in time for the Olympics two months from now if the ligament is partially or fully torn.

At Val d'Isere, France the men's team nearly failed to crack the top-30. Manuel Osborne-Paradis had the top result in the super G, placing 21 st . Michael Walchhofer of Austria was first, followed by Ted Ligety of the U.S. and Werner Heel of Italy.

In the giant slalom, Whistler's Robbie Dixon was 26 th . Marcel Hirscher of Austria was first, Massimiliano Blardone of Italy second and Benjamin Raich of Austria third.

Raich also won the super combined event, followed by Hirscher and Manfred Moelgg of Italy. Michael Janyk was the top Canadian in 35 th place.

Meanwhile the women's technical team was in Are, Sweden for giant slalom and slalom races. No Canadians qualified for a second run in the giant slalom, with Tessa Worley of France, Tina Maze of Slovenia and Kathrin Zettel of Austria placing first through third.

In slalom, Anna Goodman cracked the top 10 for the first time, finishing ninth. Brigitte Acton was 20 th .

The win went to Sandrine Aubert of France, followed by Maria Riesch and Susanne Riesch of Germany.

"It feels great to finally break into the top 10," said Goodman. "I feel like I have been on the cusp of this for a long time. Doing it today, I realize that skiing relaxed like in training and being positive pays off."

FIS looking into alpine injuries

The International Skiing Federation (FIS) is taking a close look at injuries in the sport of alpine skiing after a rash of injuries this year, holding a meeting at Val Gardena, Italy this week to discuss possible solutions.

In recent weeks Canada has lost two national team members to injuries: John Kucera and Jean-Philippe Roy.

"Our FIS race directors and staff on the World Cup circuit, all of whom are highly experienced skiing professionals, do ongoing daily work to ensure and further improve safety during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Coup Competitions," said FIS president Gian Franco Kaspar. "All our competitions are staged following precise procedures and safety guidelines, where the teams and their doctors are also directly involved. Safety of the athletes is and remains the FIS's foremost concern.

Three seasons ago the FIS set up the FIS Injury Surveillance System to collect facts and figures on injuries to athletes, but the system has not found any common denominators in the recent bout of injuries. They are meeting with coaches, teams and athletes to discuss the injuries and determine if there are any common causes and solutions.

Some of the things being looked at include changes to equipment, which is allowing athletes to go faster than ever on courses, as well as things like the number of training runs, conditions, grooming techniques, gate installation, safety net installation and course alignment. Skier behaviour will also be looked at, as well as technique, body positions and other individual physical traits.

FIS recently allowed downhill racers to wear additional body armor including spine protectors, and are looking at everything from boots, risers on bindings and the size and shape of skis.

Max Gartner, chief athletics officer for Alpine Canada, spoke to the Canadian Press this week about the injury issue, calling for "bold leadership" in making changes to the sport. Both Gartner and Kristofric, head coach of the men's alpine team, attended the meeting in Italy.

In addition to the injured Canadians, the World Cup injury list includes France's Jean-Baptiste Grange, the reigning slalom champion, Austria's Nicole Hosp, a past overall world champion, American T.J. Lanning and Lara Gut of Switzerland.

While there may be a lot of different factors leading up to the injuries, Gartner pointed out the switch to shorter skis that improve turning but ultimately absorb less of the shock. As a result that shock must be absorbed by skiers' legs, and especially their knees.

Another concern is water injection, whereby high pressure water is injected into the snow to make it harder. It also makes the run less forgiving, with harder ruts and more difficult edging.

The Olympics are also being held up as a suspect as skiers push the limits to qualify for quota spots, as well as to get to the top of their game.