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Grandi, Cousineau in top-10

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Brydon leads Canadian women in Italy

Genvieve Simard of Val-Morin, Quebec kicked off a strong weekend for the Canadian team with her gold medal super G performance last Wednesday. Although she crashed in another super G two days later, her momentum was carried by members of both the men's and women's team.

The men's team raced in a slalom at Wengen, Switzerland on Sunday. The downhill planned for Saturday was cancelled due to weather and course conditions.

In the slalom, Canadians Thomas Grandi of Canmore, Alberta and Julien Cousineau of Lachute, Quebec made spectacular comebacks by posting the two fastest second runs of the day.

Grandi was in 26 th place after the first run and jumped to fifth place - his best result in slalom and second-best World Cup performance - with the fastest second run. He was the only skier to finish the second run in under 48 seconds, and finished just seven hundredths of a second off the podium.

Once again Grandi tapped into his anger and disappointment to turn an average World Cup outing into a personal triumph. He did the same thing in Italy before Christmas, moving from 25 th to sixth place.

"Today was a lot of fun. Cousi was there in the finish and for a long time we were one-two," said Grandi. "It's a great thing to enjoy with a teammate.

"It works when I get angry. But it's pretty hard to get in that state all the time. I wouldn't be a very happy guy.

"It's because of all the hard work. If you're behind the eight ball but you're not well-prepared you won't do anything, but if you are well prepared you have the opportunity to do it all the time. I'm well-prepared and it's showing.

"Now I want to be fastest (in the) first run and hold that lead in the second."

Cousineau started the day from the 41 st start position, and moved up to 28 th after his first run. He made the second-fastest second run, moving up into 10 th .

"I'm starting to raise my level in slalom now each race, so it looks good for the next slalom races," said Cousineau, who turned 23 the day before the race.

JP Roy of Ste-Flavie, Quebec, did not finish his first run, while Whistler's Mike Janyk just missed qualifying for a second run.

"The step from Nor Am to World Cup is just getting the mental mindset to let it go the same way," said Janyk. "Obviously I'm taking this as experience but I also don't want to be here just for experience. I want to qualify."

Benjamin Raich of Austria took the gold medal, followed by teammate Rainer Schoenfelder and Ivica Kostelic of Croatia.

The women's team was at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy for a speed series last week.

Although nobody came close to matching Simard's gold medal on Wednesday, Jan. 14 the women put at least one athlete in the top-30 of every event, and several athletes managed to crack the top-15.

In the second super-G on Friday, Fernie's Emily Brydon tied for 16 th place to lead the Canuck effort. Kelly VanderBeek and Anne-Marie Lefrancois were 42 nd and 43 rd .

Simard crashed on her run, giving the Canadian team a scare. This season the Canadian Alpine Ski Team has already lost world downhill champion Melanie Turgeon and Lake Louise downhill silver medallist Erik Guay to injuries. Simard seems to have avoided the curse for Canada's medal winners. She has bruises on her right hip and left shin, but nothing that is expected to keep her on the sidelines for long.

The win went to Renate Goetschl of Austria, followed by Martina Ertl and Hilde Gerg of Germany.

In the first downhill on Saturday Brydon was once again the top Canadian in 18 th place. VanderBeek also managed to crack the top-30, finishing in 27 th place.

Gerg moved up to first for that race, Goetschl dropped to second and Carole Montillet of France was third.

Things got more interesting in the second downhill on Sunday with Brydon moving up to 12 th , VanderBeek 15 th and Lefrancois just missing the points by finishing in 34 th place.

"I'm happy to get out of the teens," said Brydon, "but I'm still not satisfied.

"It was a long week. Skiing takes a lot out of you - not so much physically, but it's emotionally draining. I was glad to have crossed the finish today after this week and know that the team is safe and sound."

Montillet took the gold medal, Goetschl took the silver and Lindsey Kildow of the U.S. won bronze.

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