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Grandi leads Canadian efforts

Career best results for Janyk, Bourque in Austria

As in Whistler, challenging weather conditions are the big story in Europe these days, where Canadian Alpine Ski Team athletes are criss-crossing the continent in search of snow, competitions and podiums.

In Austria, the government provided 100 troops to help volunteers and organizers prepare the World Cup courses at Kitzbuhel, after heavy snow and fog forced the rescheduling of downhill and super G races on Friday and Saturday.

The team had better luck on Sunday, with Thomas Grandi placing fifth in the slalom at Kitzbuehel.

"It’s a great race. I’m glad I charged both runs and I have no regrets," said Grandi. "Fifth place is a very respectable result. I was shooting for the win but it was a great day. I skied well and I know I can do better."

Ryan Semple of Calgary also collected points in his third World Cup race this year, finishing 22 nd .

The win went to Austria’s own Manfred Pragner, the first career gold of his career. His teammate Mario Matt was second and Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was third.

While the super G was held on Monday, the legendary downhill was cancelled and will likely be rescheduled for another location at a later date – a blow to Austrian race fans, many of whom stuck around an extra day to take in the super G.

Those that stayed were glad they did, as Austria’s Hermann Maier earned his first World Cup win of the season, bumping American Daron Rahlves off the top podium spot by just two-hundredths of a second. Third went to Fritz Strobl, another Austrian.

For Canada, the highlight was the 17th place performance of Francois Bourque of New Richmond, Quebec, tying his career best in a World Cup race.

After Kitzbuehel, the team headed to Schladming, Austria for a night slalom on Tuesday. Grandi was solid once again, placing eighth in a race that was marred by timing errors. Grandi was followed closely by Whistler’s Michael Janyk, who ended the day in ninth after starting from the 50 th position. Jean-Philippe Roy of Ste-Flavie, Quebec, moved up from 63 rd to 11 th , and rookie Patrick Biggs of Ontario finished 17 th .

Meanwhile the women’s team had a challenging weekend in Eastern Europe.

In Saturday’s GS at Maribor, Slovenia, three Canadian women landed in the top-15 with crowds of 18,000 cheering them the whole way down the course. The pack was led by Allison Forsyth of Nanaimo, who was disappointed with her own 10 th place finish. "I’m a bit bummed out about that mistake before the pitch," she said. "I was really going for it and I could have moved up even more if I had skied a clean run."

Genevieve Simard of Val Morin, Quebec was 12 th and Gail Kelly of Ste-Anges de Beauce was 15 th .

Tina Maze of Slovenia, fuelled by the crowd, claimed the gold medal, followed by Karen Putzer of Germany and Martina Ertl of Germany.

Things didn’t go as well in the slalom the following day, with the Canadian skiers making costly mistakes. Whistler’s Britt Janyk was in contention for a second run when her skis crossed after the top section and she fell forward into the next gate.

"I’m not too hurt," she said. "The crash looked worse that it actually was."

Brigitte Acton, who posted a career-best 18 th place finish in Croatia the week before, went off-course near the top.

World Championship team announced

Three Whistler skiers were named to the FIS Alpine World Championship team this week, with Jeff Hume and Manuel Osborne-Paradis joining the speed team, and Michael Janyk joining the technical team. Whistler’s Britt Janyk was absent from the women’s team after finishing outside of the top-30 in the slalom. By concentrating on slalom starts this year, she missed her chance to qualify in the giant slalom, although she’s a past Canadian champion in the discipline. It also happens to be the event where the Canadian talent pool is stacked the deepest, with four women in the top-30.

A total of seven women and 11 men qualified for the team.

Aside from the Whistler skiers, the men’s team includes Thomas Grandi, Erik Guay, Patrick Biggs, Francois Bourque, Jean-Philippe Roy, John Kucera, Ryan Semple and Brad Spence.

The women’s team includes Brigitte Acton, Emily Brydon, Allison Forsyth, Anna Goodman, Gail Kelly, Genevieve Simard and Kelly Vanderbeek.