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Canadian skiers in medal drought?

Alpine skiers in top-10 - podiums elusive

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By Andrew Mitchell

After a record-setting start to the season with six medals in six weeks through November and December, the Canadian Alpine Ski Team tapered off in the first two weeks of 2007. Still, Canadian skiers continue to earn points and at least two Canadians placed in the top-30 of every event.

Last weekend the men were at Wengen, Switzerland, while the women’s team was at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, both competing in downhill, and combined events.

Bode Miller of the U.S. won the first downhill race at Wengen, a comfortable 0.65 seconds ahead of Didier Cuche of Switzerland on the circuit’s longest course. Peter Fill of Italy placed third.

The top Canadian, in 18 th place, was Quebec’s Erik Guay, while Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus Manuel Osborne-Paradis placed 24 th . Francois Bourque rounded out the top-30 in 27 th place.

In the Super Combined on Sunday, Mario Matt of Austria was the top racer, followed by Marc Berthod and Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland.

Calgary’s John Kucera was the top Canadian, finishing 16 th , while Francois Bourque also pulled in some points in 25 th place. Kucera and Bourque were sitting in sixth and eighth respectively after the downhill, but were 22 nd and 30 th in the slalom.

In Austria, Fernie’s Emily Brydon was the top Canadian, placing 11th in a three-way tie in the downhill on Saturday, one spot ahead of Kelly VanderBeek in 14 th . Whistler’s Britt Janyk cracked the top-20 to place 18 th , half a second out of the top-10.

The gold medal went to Renate Goetschl of Austria, followed by Dominique Gisin of Switzerland and Julia Mancuso of the U.S.

In the Super Combined, Mancuso took over with strong runs in both the downhill and slalom. Her teammate, Lindsey Kildow, placed second, while Marlies Schild of Austria was third.

Brydon cracked the top-10, tying for ninth place in the combined. Shona Rubens was 18 th , Britt Janyk 19 th and Emilie Desforges 25 th .

This was Brydon’s fifth top-10 this season.

“It feels good. I was pleased with my slalom run today especially,” said Brydon. “The downhill I did well in sections but I really felt like I could have done it better and maybe come away with a better result.”

For Janyk, who is having a consistent season with finishes in the top-30 in speed events, two top-20s in the same weekend are only the beginning.

“My downhill was really solid,” she said. “I just have to improve my level of risk to match some of the top skiers out there, to take some more risks next time, but it’s getting there.”

Canada currently sits sixth in the overall Nation Cup standings with 1,824 points. Austria leads with 7,076 points, followed by the U.S. with 3,018.

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