Canadian women pick up the pace 

Grandi just misses podium in Italian slalom

After a slower than expected start to the season, the Canadian women’s ski team found its groove in World Cup competition at Aspen last week.

In the super G on Friday, Genevieve Simard of Val Morin, Quebec finished sixth, less than half a second back of the podium.

“I felt really good in the upper section and had the fastest (split) time of the day,” she said. “The rest of the way I had a good technical ski but I missed that little bit extra that would have got me on the podium.”

She was joined in the top-15 by Fernie’s Emily Brydon, while Allison Forsyth of Nanaimo finished out of the points in 35 th place.

The win went to Nadia Styger of Switzerland, followed by Michaela Dorfmeister and Andrea Fischbacher of Austria.

In the giant slalom the following day Forsyth was the top Canadian in 11 th place, while Brydon finished 13 th . Brydon also had the fastest second run of any skier in the competition, but just missed the top-12 result required to earn a spot in the Olympic GS.

Genevieve Simard and Brigitte Acton were 17 th and 18 th respectively.

The win went to Spanish racer Maria Jose Rienda, followed by Anja Paerson of Sweden and Kathrin Zettel of Austria.

The final event of the weekend was a slalom. Quebec’s Brigitte Acton was the top Canadian in that category, earning her first points in that discipline with a 29 th place finish.

Whistler’s Britt Janyk finished 41 st , but is confident that she’s on the right track.

“My training has been going well,” she said. “I just have to learn to perform like I have been in training on the race day. I have some work to do and I’m looking forward to getting it done.”

The women’s team now follows the men’s team to Val d’Isere, France this weekend for downhill and super G races.

Val d’Isere was good to the men’s team.

In the first downhill on Friday, Erik Guay of Mont Tremblant finished seventh, tied with American star Bode Miller. He could have finished higher, but was lucky not to finish his season prematurely after mistakenly getting airborne over a bump on the course.

“I did scare myself a little going in there but I think I would have had a pretty fast time if I hadn’t made that mistake,” he said. “But it’s part of downhill. I’m not going to hold it against myself. I’m still happy I took a lot of risks.”

Manuel Osborne-Paradis, an alumnus of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, finished 12 th to post his best result of the season and improve his chances of racing for Canada in the Olympics.

Francois Bourque, who is having his best World Cup season yet, managed to earn some points with his 25 th place finish — just 0.64 seconds back of the top-10 in one of the closest races of the year.

The next day the Canadians raced the downhill once again as part of the Super-Combi. The winner is the skier with the lowest combined time in the downhill and a single-run slalom event.

If Guay was worried about his near crash the day before he didn’t show it. The 24-year-old skier followed a tight line and won the downhill leg — the first Canadian to win on that course since Crazy Canuck Ken Read in 1975.

Guay’s celebration was cut short in the slalom, where he straddled a gate and was bumped all the way back to 38 th overall.

“Slalom isn’t really my thing,” he said. “But I came in here this morning with something to prove. I knew yesterday, without that mistake, I could have been competitive.”

Calgary’s John Kucera finished 15 th in the combined, including 12 th in the downhill and 22 nd in the slalom.

There was also a regular World Cup slalom at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy on Monday. Thomas Grandi came close to earning his second career medal in slalom, just 0.14 back of the bronze medal spot. Giorgio Rocca of Italy took the win, followed by Benjamin Raich of Austria and Kalle Palander of Finland.

Whistler Michael Janyk finished a strong 12 th , while Patrick Biggs of Calgary earned points in 20 th place.

It was a challenging course, with 29 skiers not finishing their first run and four others not finishing the second run. Only 26 skiers completed both runs to earn a result.

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