Canadian skiers struggle in Europe 

Roy’s ninth leads team

With three World Cup competitions during the last three weeks keeping our athletes in Europe, and no podiums to speak of, the holiday season has been less than kind to the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. Last weekend was more of the same with the men struggling in Adelboden, Switzerland and the women struggling in Maribor Slovenia.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any bright spots for the weekend – Jean-Phillipe Roy of Quebec cracked the top 10 in one race, finishing ninth, and Nanaimo’s Allison Forsyth was 11 th in another. A handful of athletes also made it into the top 20.

The action started on Jan. 4 with a women’s GS. Sonja Nef of Switzerland took the gold medal by a wide margin. Slovenia’s Tina Maze, 18, was second, followed by Norway’s Stina Hofgard-Nilsen.

For the first time in a long while, the Austrian team wasn’t able to crack the top 10 or even the top 15. Renate Goetschl came closest for the dominant Austrian team with a 17 th place finish.

Forsyth, 23, finished 11 th for Canada and currently sits in 13 th place in the World Cup standings. So far she has four top 15 finishes and a silver medal to her credit this season.

In the slalom on the following day, Sweden’s Anja Paerson earned her third slalom gold medal of the season and the lead in the standings. Kristina Koznick of the U.S. was second, more than a second back, while Laure Pequegnot of France was third.

Quebec’s Genevieve Simard led the way for the Canadians, finishing 18 th after qualifying for her the second run for the first time in slalom.

"Gen had a good midway time in Lienz last week and has been skiing quite fast in training," said coach Mark Sharp. "With this hill, we knew she was capable of producing some results like that and we think she could definitely do better still."

The 21 year old from Val Morin, Quebec, is having a breakthrough year on the circuit with one top 10 and three top 20 results. She has also qualified for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Like Forsyth the day before, Simard was the only Canadian to break the top 30 and qualify for a second run.

Meanwhile the men were racing in the classic giant slalom at Adelboden. Racing at home, Swiss skier Didier Cuche won his first ever gold medal in GS, and by a considerable gap. Frederic Covili of France and Fredrik Nyberg of Sweden were second and third.

The top Canadian was Alberta’s Grandi, who finished 17 th . It was his third top 20 result of the season, including a career-best sixth. No other Canadians cracked the top 30.

On Jan. 6, the women competed in the slalom once again. And, once again, the top spot went to Paerson, but by a much thinner margin. Pequegnot of France was 0.08 seconds back in second. Nef was third.

Forsyth was the only Canadian to qualify for a second run, and finished the day in 25 th place.

In the men’s competition, the slalom went to Bode Miller of the U.S. It was his third gold medal of the season.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was second, and Mitja Kunc of Slovenia was third.

Quebec’s Jean-Phillipe Roy started his day 55 th out of the gate and ended it in ninth, to post his second top 10 finish of the season. Grandi was 20 th .

"J.P. is coming on really strong this season so we are pushing each other and that’s a key thing," said Grandi. "Now I just have to push myself more and more in each race and find my limits."

To date the Canadian team has qualified 10 athletes to the Olympics, and several others, including Whistler’s Britt Janyk, are one strong finish away. At the last Olympics in Nagano, Japan, only seven Canadian alpine skiers made the cut.

The list of qualified athletes includes Dave Anderson, Sara-Maude Boucher, Emily Brydon, Allison Forsyth, Thomas Grandi, Anne-Marie Lefrancois, Darin McBeath, Jean-Philippe Roy, Edi Podivinsky, and Melanie Turgeon.


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