RBC GranFondo announces training program 

Sports briefs: Gagnon sixth at Zagreb slalom

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE/TOURISM WHISTLER - FINAL STRETCH A new RBC GranFondo training program has been announced to support new riders hoping to make it to the finish line.
  • Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
  • FINAL STRETCH A new RBC GranFondo training program has been announced to support new riders hoping to make it to the finish line.

If you've always wanted to try riding the RBC GranFondo but haven't gotten to it yet, there might be a little extra nudge available.

The race, which will take place this year on Sept. 9, announced a My First Fondo training program. The small-group clinics will take place over 12 weeks in the Metro Vancouver area leading up to the ride from Vancouver to Whistler. Two options, beginner and intermediate, will be offered.

More details will be announced at a later date, but anyone interested in being contacted when that information is available can email nick@granfondocanada.com.

Gagnon sixth in Zagreb slalom

Marie-Michele Gagnon had a strong finish to 2016 and she carried it right into 2017.

After taking two top-15 finishes in Semmering, Austria (a seventh and a 14th) in giant slalom action, Gagnon improved on those season-best showings with a sixth-place slalom placement in Zagreb, Croatia on Jan. 3.

The Canadian skier, the only Canuck to finish, was 1.91 seconds back of winner Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia. Fellow Slovakian Petra Vlhova took second and Czech Republic's Sarka Strachova was third.

At the previous stop in Semmering, Erin Mielzynski took a top-10 finish by taking ninth in the slalom on Dec. 29. Mielzynski was 2.52 seconds back of American Mikaela Shiffrin while Velez Zuzulova and Switzerland's Wendy Holdener were also on the podium.

"It feels amazing to be back in the top 10, but it felt really incredible to be comfortable on my skis and be able to start putting my race plan into action," Mielzynski told the Alpine Canada Alpin website. "I finally felt like myself and with that, I know I can push myself harder. I took a different approach to today's race and simplified absolutely everything about my skiing. Today, I stood in the start and imagined that all of my loved ones were at the bottom and I was going to ski for them. The conditions were good today. Although the course was a bit bumpy, the bright night-skiing lights make the visibility incredible and the course workers shovelled out every gate. I'm really happy to head into the New Year with this result under my belt."

As for the men, Canadian Erik Read continued a strong season with a sixth-place in his Alpine combined debut in Santa Caterina, Italy on Dec. 29. Read was 2.42 seconds back of France's Alexis Pinturault, the day's winner. Austria's Marcel Hirscher and Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde were the runners-up.

"It's pretty icy, dark and bumpy here, making the super-G challenging since I haven't trained that much super-G," Read told the Alpine Canada Alpin website. "I went into today's super-G really aggressive and with some fire to do well. The super-G was a technical set that favoured the giant slalom skiers so I knew I could take advantage of that."

The other Canadian in the event, Tyler Werry, took a 38th-place finish.

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