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Alpine Canada releases top 10 list for season

Thompson's Crystal Globe, Josh Dueck's backflip make list



Alpine Canada released its list of top 10 moments from the 2011-2012 season this week, celebrating a year that started slowly but made history by the end.

1. Erin Mielzynksi ended the Canadian women's slalom drought with a win in Germany. She's the first Canadian woman to win a slalom race since Betsy Clifford in 1971. Marie-Michele Gagnon added an exclamation mark the next week with a bronze in slalom.

2. Marielle Thompson of Whistler wins the women's ski cross Crystal Globe. It was the 19-year-old's second season with the national team, and she did it with six podium appearances — three of them for gold medals.

3. Paralympian Josh Dueck made ski history this winter when he became the first person to land a backflip on a sitski on Feb. 3. The idea came about as Mike Douglas of Switchback Entertainment and Salomon Freeski TV were filming a documentary about Dueck called "The Freedom Chair." Dueck said he'd like to try a backflip, the same trick that resulted in his spinal cord injury — and with the help of others (training at Woodswards' foam pit and using Camp of Champions air bag) he headed out to the backcountry with Powder Mountain Catskiing and made it on his first attempt.

4. Jan Hudec's season went from answering questions about whether he would retire to the top of the podium. He was on the podium twice this year, winning the downhill at Chamonix, France and placing second in a super G.

5. Brady Leman has had a rough few seasons with injuries and disappointing results, but came back with a vengeance this year to win two events, place second in another and rank second overall in the World Cup rankings — just 39 points back of his own Crystal Globe.

6. Invermere's Benjamin Thomsen earned his first downhill podium, a week after turning the number 50 bib into a fifth place finish. He went on to finish in the top 10 of every subsequent race to rank 15th overall.

7. Slalom skier Brad Spence skied for Gage Ferguson, an eight-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome, after putting out a call for headgear sponsors. Ferguson emptied his piggy bank to help the athlete, drawing the attention of Spence and Alpine Canada. In reply, Spence added a sticker with Ferguson's name to his helmet, and the team flew Ferguson and his parents to Switzerland to attend a race.

8. The ski cross team four-peated its Nations Cup title, despite injuries to some of its top athletes.

9. Para alpine athletes Josh Dueck and Kimberly Joines both finish first in the IPC World Cup Finals at Panorama — Dueck in super G and Joines in downhill. Joines also won gold in super combined.

10. The "speed streak" wasn't one moment, but a lot of great moments combined. On Feb. 4, Jan Hudec, Erik Guay and Ben Thomsen placed first, third and fifth in a race, the best result for the team since 1994. Combined with Guay's silver medal the previous week, the Canadian men's speed team was on the podium in four consecutive races.

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