The Canadian Alpine Ski Team wrapped up the first part of the 2005-06 season with two more medals, bring the tally to seven so far this year.
Number six and seven came courtesy of Thomas Grandi, who made up for a slow start with a pair of podium finishes in giant slalom and slalom on challenging courses at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia just before Christmas.
In the giant slalom Grandi was sixth after his first run, then put in one of the fastest second runs of the day to move up to third behind Benjamin Raich of Austria and Massimiliano Blardone of Italy.
Said Grandi, “This result is particularly gratifying considering the bumps, the flat flight, and the water injected course.
“I’ve been comfortable in slalom and it was a matter of time until I found my zone in giant slalom.”
Like other slopes in Europe, Kranjska Gora is shoveling out from a string of winter blizzards. Organizers used water injection to firm up the softer snow and create a more consistent course for racers.
Grandi said he wanted a good giant slalom result heading into the Olympics. “I had a tough start to the season, with Beaver Creek probably being my toughest race, so this is the confidence boost I needed. I can head to the Games with a positive mindset, knowing that I am right there with the best racers.”
The other good news for the Canadian team in that race was another top-30 by Francois Bourque, who won a bronze in the GS the week before. He was seventh after his first run, despite a mistake in the top section, but almost went off course on his second run to get pushed back to 25 th overall.
“Early on today I could feel that my balance wasn’t optimal,” said Bourque. “In the second run I made a mistake and got caught in a big cloud of snow. I could barely see a thing all the way to the finish line.”
Both Ryan Semple of Calgary and Erik Guay of Mont Tremblant also managed to earn points by finishing 27 th and 28 th respectively.
In the slalom the following day, a more confident Grandi won the silver medal — Canada’s seventh this winter and sixth in six consecutive races.
Giorgio Rocca of Italy was solid in two runs to win, finishing with a time of 1:35:98.
Grandi skied consistently, but could still only come within 0.64 seconds of the Italian. Ted Ligety of the U.S. finished just 0.03 back of Grandi to claim the bronze medal.