Cousineau leads team in Swiss classic 

Julien Cousineau of Lachute, Quebec, celebrated his birthday weekend with a 10 th place finish in the slalom at Wengen, Switzerland on Sunday, Jan. 19.

Cousineau turned 22 on Jan. 17, five days after earning his first ever World Cup points with a 12 th place finish at Adelboden, Switzerland, a classic GS race.

Last weekend, the World Cup moved to Wengen for another classic downhill, slalom and combined.

"I was feeling very confident, and those are the kind of conditions I really like – very hard snow, very demanding hill," said Cousineau. "You really have to be strong. I was ready mentally to get a good result here. I’m really happy, and obviously surprised."

Jan. 19 was also his mother’s birthday, which made the day extra special for the 24-year-old.

Cousineau was the 75 th skier out of the gate in the day’s first run, and jumped an unheard of 63 spots to stand 12 th after his first run.

"In all of the years that I’ve been coaching, which is a lot, I’ve never seen that in my life," said Canadian head technical coach Thierry Meynet. "He stayed mentally solid in the second run. He did have a small mistake, and lost his balance at the bottom pitch which cost him some time – so he could have been even higher. I’m very proud of Julien’s results."

Cousineau was joined in the top-20 by Thomas Grandi of Canmore, Alberta, who finished 16 th .

The Canadians got a boost from the presence of teammate Jean-Philippe Roy. Roy has been sidelined with an arm injury since December, but has started to train with the team once again.

First place went to Giorgio Rocca of Italy, followed by Akira Sasaki of Japan – the first ever World Cup silver medal in alpine skiing for a member of the Japanese team.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was third.

The young Canadian downhill team raced a pair of downhill’s on Wengen’s Lauberhorn course Jan. 17 and 18. Erik Guay crashed just before the finish in Friday’s downhill and did not start Saturday’s race. Vincent Lavoie and Whistler’s Jeff Hume were 35 th and 40 th respectively in Saturday’s downhill, after finishing 41 st and 47 th Friday.

This weekend the men’s circuit moves to another classic downhill and slalom, in Kitzbuehel, Austria. No Canadian men are entered in the downhill.

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