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Canadian skiers sluggish when tour resumes

Osborne-Paradis, Dixon solid on demanding Stelvio course



With only a short break between Christmas dinner and races at Lienz, Austria and Bormio, Italy, the Canadian Alpine Ski Team was a little on the sluggish side out of the gates.

In Monday's giant slalom race at Lienz, none of the Canadian women finished in the top-30 to earn World Cup points, with Marie-Pier Prefontaine leading the way in 36 th place. The field was tight, however, and Prefontaine was only 0.39 seconds away from qualifying for a second run.

Maria Hoelzl of Germany took the win, followed by Manuela Moelgg of Italy and Taina Barioz of France.

The biggest news of the day was the crash of American Lindsey Vonn, who is currently leading the overall, downhill and super G standings. She fell on her hip after crossing skis on course and was taken to a hospital to evaluate her injuries. She was released with an injured wrist and no broken bones, but would not return to compete in the slalom the following day.

The Canadians had a better day in the slalom with Brigitte Acton placing 17 th - her third top 20 result of the season after missing almost two years with a fractured bone in her lower back.

"I'm satisfied, but maybe a little frustrated," she said, hoping to place in the top 10. "I just have to be patient. I am skiing really well in training. I just need to transfer that more and more into my racing."

No other Canadians qualified for a second run, although Shona Rubens came close, missing the mark by just nine one-hundredths of a second.

Meanwhile the men's speed team was in Bormio, Italy for a downhill. Erik Guay was the fastest Canadian in training, 11 th , while Robbie Dixon and Manuel Osborne-Paradis - both Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumni - were 19 th and 26 th respectively.

Osborne-Paradis jumped up 16 positions to place 10 th on race day, his best ever finish on the demanding Stelvio course. Dixon - still recovering from a crash in an earlier race - moved up to 14 th while Guay went off course and did not finish.

"The race was good but very tiring," said Dixon. "I was happy with how things went considering it is my first time racing here. I almost lost it towards the bottom and lost some time there but all in all I was very happy with how I skied.

"I was happy especially after that dirty fall I had in Alta Badia. I was pretty bruised and had a sore ankle..."

Andrej Jerman of Slovenia won the race and his second career gold medal in downhill. Jerman won at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2007.

Jerman was followed by Didier Defago of Switzerland and Michael Walchhofer of Austria. Swiss and Austrian teams both placed three athletes in the top 10.