Kranjc 11th at World Age Group Competitions 

Sports briefs: Nicoll raising money for mental health; WOP to open Nov. 22; Mielzynski strong in Levi

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - New heights Gigi Kranjc, shown here at a previous competition, finished 11th in her category at the FIG World Age Group Competitions in Russia.
  • Photo submitted
  • New heights Gigi Kranjc, shown here at a previous competition, finished 11th in her category at the FIG World Age Group Competitions in Russia.

Whistler Gymnastics trampolinist Gigi Kranjc performed well but narrowly missed her division's finals at the FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in St. Petersburg, Russia on Nov. 16.

Competing in the double-mini trampoline event for women aged 17 to 21, Kranjc placed 11th with a score of 65.3, just 0.7 points back of the eighth and final slot to advance from qualifiers.

Australia's Cheyanna Robinson posted a 66.4 in the final to edge American Kellyn Euhus and New Zealand's Melissa Romeril.

Toronto's Rachel Tam won Canada's lone medal at the event, earning bronze in the women's 17-to-21 individual trampoline.

Team manager and coaching lead Denis Vachon was pleased with the showing.

"We had a great competition. We brought a larger team than we have in a decade, and it was great because we had a lot of new blood, a lot of young athletes and inexperienced ones, and they really delivered—there were so many hit performances," Vachon said in a release. "Our target was to put people in the top 2/3 of each category, assuming they hit their routines, and everyone that hit their routines ended up ahead of our target which is exactly what we were hoping for. For us it's definitely mission accomplished at this competition."

Nicoll raising money for mental health

Snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll has been open about her own mental-health struggles over the course of her career, and now, she's looking to give back.

The four-time Olympian is holding a contest to support jack.org, which trains "young leaders (to) identify and dismantle barriers to positive mental health in their communities," according to its website.

As part of the contest, anyone who raises $200 or more in support of the group will be entered to win a chance to take part in Whistler Blackcomb's Ski or Ride With An Olympian program. Nicoll, Robbie Dixon, Britt Janyk, Maelle Ricker and Tara Teigen are all confirmed to take part for the half day on the mountain on Dec. 15.

In all, 25 winners will be announced.

For more, check out jack.org/ride-with-an-olympian.

WOP to hold soft opening on Nov. 22

Whistler Olympic Park will celebrate its opening day on Thursday, Nov. 22. Despite limited natural snowfall, cross-country skiers will be able to ski on "Callaghan Gold," a one-kilometre loop located adjacent to Whistler Olympic Park's biathlon range.

The loop is comprised of natural snow preserved from the previous season under sawdust. It will be open for skate skiing only and is recommended for intermediate and advanced skiers, not beginners.

"We primarily created this loop for early-season athlete training starting end of October. Now it enables us to provide snow access to the public, while we are waiting for natural snow, which may come later this week, it is hard to predict," explained Tim Hope, managing director of Whistler Olympic Park, in a release.

-Megan Lalonde

Mielzynski 11th at Levi

Erin Mielzynski posted Canada's best result in FIS World Cup slalom action in Levi, Finland on the weekend.

Mielzynski took an 11th-place showing on Nov. 17 with a two-run time of one minute, 34.70 seconds (1:34.70) to finish 2.09 seconds back of winner Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States. Slovakia's Petra Vlhova and Austria's Bernadette Schild rounded out the podium. Roni Remme, meanwhile, took 27th.

On the men's side, no Canadians made it through two runs. Austria's Marcel Hirscher nicked Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen by 0.09 seconds for the win, while Sweden's Andre Myhrer took third.

For full results, see www.fis-ski.com.

Groenewoud announces retirement

Freestyle Canada's roster turnover continued as another competitor announced her retirement on Nov. 20.

Vancouver resident Rosalind Groenewoud, a two-time Olympian in halfpipe, has opted to shift away from competitive skiing. Groenewoud had an impressive career, winning seven X Games medals, including two gold, the FIS World Championship title in 2011, and nine World Cup/Grand Prix medals, including three gold.

In recent years, Groenewoud has been slowed by injury, sustaining four serious ailments in the past four years. While she was hoping to push through one more season, she thought it was ultimately best to walk away.

"I think everyone has a threshold as to how much heartache and disappointment they can bear in the pursuit of their dream. I reached that limit this year," Groenewoud said in a release. "Although I had always planned to compete in the 2019 World Championships, I ran out of the fire that allows me to push through injuries and pain. I'll really miss flying high and spinning out of the pipe—nothing else can match that feeling!"

Other skiers who have retired this offseason include Mike Riddle, Keltie Hansen and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe.

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