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Canadians continue to improve


Grandi, Cousineau top-15 in GS; Guay, Lavoie top-30 in downhill

Thomas Grandi is on a roll these days. A week ago the 30-year-old from Canmore, Alberta, finished ninth in a slalom, his best World Cup result in the discipline in three seasons. Although he failed to qualify for the slalom this past weekend on a challenging course that claimed dozens of racers, he made up for it on Jan. 14 with a 10th-place finish in the classic giant slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland.

Although he has yet to land on the podium this season, Grandi is now only one of eight racers to score World Cup points in every GS race this season.

Adding to the excitement for Canada, Julien Cousineau of Lachute, Quebec, a rookie with the team, collected his first ever World Cup points with a 12 th place finish, moving up 10 spots after his first run.

"Cousi’s the big news today, what a guy," said Grandi. "If Julien’s first finish is any indication of future success, he’s going to be great. With J.P. (Roy) coming back soon and Ryan (Semple) close to qualifying, the team is looking good."

Some 20,000 alpine race fans lined the course, and cheered on the athletes as they made their way down the icy, treacherous slope at Adelboden, which has been an annual stop on the men’s World Cup circuit since the days of Jean-Claude Killy. Among the competitors was Austrian Hermann Maier, making a comeback after almost losing a leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001. Maier finished 31 st , just failing to qualify for the second run by .05 seconds.

When he finished his second run, Cousineau was in second place. Grandi took over as leader one racer later. Their reign at the top was short-lived, however, as the top skiers on the circuit made their second runs.

"I believe I really belong here in the top-30," said Cousineau, who qualified for the World Championships with his result. "I was right there with Thomas and J.P. in training and the Nor Ams gave me confidence to be winning again. Two good runs in a row here is not a fluke. You have to be on the edge here, but one little mistake can cost you everything."

He wasn’t exaggerating. Some 19 out of 63 starters didn’t finish the first run, and seven other racers went off-course on the second run, including first run leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Benjamin Raich of Austria.

Meanwhile, the young Canadian men’s ski team is continuing to improve on its World Cup results. They have yet to put a skier on the podium, but the season has not been without its bright spots.

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