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Grandi 22nd in Italy



U.S. Team nets back-to-back gold medals

Thomas Grandi of Canmore, Alberta, was the only Canadian to crack the top-30 in the men’s World Cup competitions in Italy last week, finishing 22 nd in the giant slalom at Alta Badia.

While he is consistently finishing in the points this season, landing in the top-15 in his last two appearances, Grandi was disappointed with the result.

"I didn’t ski a great second run," said the 29-year-old veteran. "I was definitely shooting for a higher finish, and felt really good after the first run. Two runs aren’t easy to put together, but that’s what I’m working on."

Grandi was 11 th after his first run on what he described as a physically demanding course, and finished the day with a combined time of two minutes 36.02 seconds, 2.21 seconds off the lead.

First place went to Bode Miller of the U.S., who is currently ranked third on the World Cup GS circuit. It was Miller’s first gold medal of the season, although he has consistently ranked in the top-10.

In second was Davide Simoncelli of Italy, who finished more than a second back of Miller. Third went to Christian Mayer of Austria, who was 0.01 seconds back of Simoncelli.

The Canadian men were supposed to be back in action at Bormio, Italy, for the downhill on Dec. 28, but warm weather, rain, and soft snow conditions interrupted training.

The downhill got pushed to Dec. 29, and as temperatures dropped, the course iced over. The conditions were tough but not impossible, so the race went off as planned.

Fifteen of 56 starters did not finish the race, including World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria. For the racers who did finish, the times were slower on the 3.6 kilometre course than in past years.

American Daron Rahlves won his first World Cup race in almost three years with a time of two minutes and 1.42 seconds. Fritz Strobl and Hannes Trinkl of Austria were second and third by a fraction of a second.

Canada’s top racer was Erik Guay of Temblant, Quebec, who finished in 33 rd . Vincent Lavoie of Cap Rouge, Quebec, was 36 th .

"Finishing 33 rd is never good," said Guay, who already has several top-30 finishes in his rookie season. "Anything outside the top-30 is just another training run.

"We had one training run in very soft conditions, then the course froze up rock hard. It was a completely different course – definitely tough for first-timers. I have never raced on such a demanding slope."

Whistler’s Jeff Hume, who is turning heads on the World Cup circuit with his all-or-nothing skiing, missed the finish for the fourth time out of eight races this season.

After crashing two weeks earlier in the downhill at Val d’Isere, he was back in the saddle at Bormio. Despite posting some strong split-times that would place him within reach of the podium, Hume, another rookie, is still waiting for a breakthrough.

"I’ve had some really good split times, but I don’t have a good result yet," he said. "I was hoping today would be the day I got over the hump. I’ve got to improve my concentration for the full race. At the start of every downhill I’m aiming for better than top-30."

Hume was in good company in the DNF column. Eberharter skied off course in a technical section and both Kjetil-Andre Aamodt of Norway and Patrick Jaerbyn of Sweden crashed and required medical assistance. Neither was seriously injured.

The Canadian speed team’s next race is the downhill at Chamonix, France on Jan. 11. In the meantime, the team will train at Murau, Austria.

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