The Canadian Alpine Ski Team is looking stronger than it has in decades, but with only weeks remaining to qualify athletes for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games it will be a struggle to qualify a full team of 22 athletes the goal set by Alpine Canada Alpin heading into the season.
Part of the reason is the fact that the womens technical team is struggling in the slalom. With Emily Brydon now focusing more of her time on downhill, super-G and GS events, and Allison Forsyth unable to compete in slalom due to tendonitis in her hips, the team includes just two members Whistlers Britt Janyk and Brigitte Acton of Mont Tremblant. Although both skiers are improving with every race, there are only a few races left between now and Feb. 6, when Alpine Canada Alpin will finalize its Olympic team selection.
To make the cut, Janyk, Acton and other CAST hopefuls need two top-12 results from the start off the 2004-05 season, or a top-five in one World Cup.
Every race counts at this point, which made the teams results from Maribor, Slovenia on Sunday so disappointing. Neither Acton nor Janyk qualified for a second run, finishing 39 th and 46 th respectively.
"I felt like things were going really well at the top but I held on a little too much on the bottom and was too slow at the finish," said Janyk. "Ive been moving better and really coming out of the gates fast in recent weeks. Thats the good news, now I just have to continue it through the second half of the course."
Because of the weather fog and falling snow a lot of skiers went off-course, while others struggled to stay in the tracks. Marlies Schild of Austria took the win, followed by Janica Kostelic of Croatia. Therese Borssen of Sweden was third.
The good news for the team is that Thomas Grandi is building up the consistency that made him one of the top-ranked technical skiers last season in both giant slalom and slalom. In the classic GS at Adelboden, Switzerland Grandi moved up from ninth to sixth after a strong second run.
"First run I was always fighting to make the next gate," said Grandi. "I wasnt able to find the rhythm and look for speed.
"Overall Im happy with the way I skied today because I didnt ski a great second run either. But I fought hard for this sixth place and Im happy with that, though (coach) Dusan (Grasic) might not agree with me."