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Canadian skiers off to good start

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Three qualify for second run at Soelden

Although a record six women would represent the Canadian Alpine Ski Team at the first World Cup of the season at Soelden, Austria last Saturday, only one would qualify for a second run.

Geneviéve Simard of Val Morin, Quebec was the top Canadian in 20 th place overall with a combined time of one minute and 52.06 seconds over two runs of the GS course. Ordinarily a World Cup course takes longer to ski, but it was shortened by a third due to gusting winds up to 100 km/h at the top of the course.

"Technically I skied solidly," said the 22-year-old Simard, last season’s World Cup Rookie of the Year. "I have big expectations for myself this year. I start top 30 now and I know I belong with the big girls. If I do everything right I can be there."

Allison Forsyth of Nanaimo, who was ranked fifth in the world in GS last season, was knocked out of contention in her first run when she went wide and missed a gate at the midway point.

Gail Kelly came closest to making a second run, missing the top 30 by 9/100ths of a second after being battered by wind gusts at the bottom of the course.

"I know I can be in the top 30. I knew I was going good at the top, but then it got so windy at the bottom I couldn’t see very well," said the 23-year-old from Ste-Anges de Beauce, Quebec.

Kelly was making her first European World Cup appearance in two years after battling back from two serious concussions.

"I’m there. I just have to ski like I know I can," she said.

Whsitler’s Britt Janyk, the overall Europa Cup giant slalom champion last season, was 37 th after her first run. Although she was frustrated by the race conditions to start the season, she was still encouraged by her finish.

"Things have been going well in training, and I know that we belong here," she said.

Anna Prchal of Montreal was 44 th , and 17-year-old Sophie Splawinski of Quebec, the overall Nor Am GS champion, was dazzled by her first World Cup race.

"It was really amazing, being able to stand at the start and see thousands of people in the crowd. It’s a crazy madhouse. I’ve never even been to a World Cup, never mind racing in one."

Splawinski was 63 rd after her first run.

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