Sports » Features

Canadians close, but no podium at world championships


Canada’s alpine skiers proved once again that they have what it takes to compete at the World Cup level, with two women in the top 15 of the world championship super-G on Jan. 29 at St. Anton, Austria.

At the end of a day, less than half a second separated 10 th place Melanie Turgeon of Canada from world champion Regine Cavagnoud of France. Fernie’s Emily Brydon finished 12 th , 0.26 seconds back of Turgeon.

"It was not what I was looking for, but you know anything can happen at this race," said Turgeon, the 24 year old from Beauport Quebec. "I skied it like it was just another race but it just so happens that it was the world championships today."

Turgeon, who currently sits fourth in the World Cup super-G standings after earning two silvers this season, says the course conditions started off great but deteriorated as the temperatures hit zero degrees Celsius.

"During the inspection this morning the course was perfect, but by the time we started at noon the snow really softened up," she said. "It wasn’t as challenging as it could have been. I couldn’t really find the rhythm. I tried and tried and didn’t make any major mistakes, but it just wasn’t there.

"I’m really happy that Cavagnoud won. She has been dominant this year in super-G and she deserves it. I just wish I was there with her."

For Brydon, who is just 20 years old, it was her first world championship, and hopefully a sign of things to come. Brydon had the fifth fastest split time on the top section, ahead of Cavagnoud, but made a costly mistake in the middle section.

"There was a crucial turn up there and I went a little wide on it," said Brydon. "I didn’t really know what to expect today. All I know is I am going as hard as I can and loving every minute of it."

Isolde Kostner of Italy finished second by five one-hundredths of a second, three one-hundredths faster than Hilde Gerg of Germany.

While Cavagnoud was easily the favourite going into the women’s super-G, the men’s contest on Jan. 30 was a bit of a shocker, as American Daron Rahlves silenced the home crowd by crossing the finish line ahead of Austrian’s Stefan Eberharter and Hermann Maier.

"I saw the number one beside my name and the crowd was so quiet I didn’t know what was going," said Rahlves. "Then I looked back and the ‘one’ was still there. Only then did I figure out what happened."

It looked like the contest would go to Maier, the overall World Cup leader, until Eberharter crossed the line with a 0.05 second lead. Just when the contest looked over, Rahlves crossed the line 0.08 seconds faster than Eberharter.

"I’m starting to realize that being smart when you ski will pay off," said Rahlves. "I’ve taken too many risks in the past. Today I skied clean and strong and had a good rhythm."

Rahlves previous best super-G was a fourth place finish in 1995. At St. Anton, he became the first American world champion since Steve Mahre in 1982.

The Canadians were Darin McBeath in 28 th and Whistler’s Mike Giannelli in 32 nd .

The next event in the World Championships is the downhill. Turgeon had the fifth fastest time in the first training run.

Add a comment