Forsyth in sixth, Janyk in top-30
January 25 was a day of milestones, for Thomas Grandi of Canmore, Alberta and for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team.
After two solid runs, the 31-year-old World Cup veteran went where no Canadian man has ever gone before the podium for the famous slalom course at Kitzbuehel, Austria.
Grandi led after the first run by a narrow 0.19 seconds over Kalle Palander of Finland. He then made the fourth-fastest second run of the day, losing the lead but placing second overall by just 0.08 seconds. The gold medal went to Palander, and the bronze to Austrias Rainer Schoenfelder.
Grandis silver was Canadas third medal of the season, after Genevieve Simards super G gold and Erik Guays downhill silver.
So many milestones:
It was Grandis first trip to the podium in seven years, and the first time Grandi has ever led after the first run. Second is the best Canadian slalom result ever logged at Kitzbuehel, and it was the first ever World Cup slalom medal won by a Canadian man. In fact, it was the best result ever for a Canadian man in a technical World Cup event.
It was a big day for Grandi and the national ski team, and it started in the worst possible way with a slip on the pavement and a bump on his head.
"I was walking to the gondola and I slipped on some snow," said Grandi. "I fell on my back with my feet in the air and hit my head on the cement. If I hadnt been wearing my helmet I would have had a concussion for sure."
Although the fall couldnt keep him off the slopes, it may actually have worked to his advantage it made him angry, and when Grandi gets angry he takes it out on the race course. Hes the Incredible Hulk of the World Cup circuit.
Grandi had finished in the top-10 three times before Kitzbuehel, in slalom and giant slalom, and each time he was angry at something usually himself for any mistakes he made in the first run.
Whatever his methods are, things are working out for Grandi. He currently sits in seventh place in the slalom rankings, 14 th in giant slalom, and 19 th overall on the World Cup circuit. Aside from two races where he chalked up DNFs, Grandi has not finished outside of the top-30 this season, qualifying for a second run every race.
Still, the podium eluded Grandi until Sunday.
"Its been seven years," said Grandi, referring to the bronze medal he won in GS at Park City, Utah in 1997. "Its been a long journey back to the podium.
"Ive been chasing this a long time. Its a great feeling. I have had good second runs previously, but never a good opener. I wasnt nervous at all this morning, but before my second run I certainly was."
Julien Cousineau of Lachute, Quebec also made it into the top-30 in the slalom, finishing 20 th . Although the 22-year-old was excited by his own finish and the consistency he has found lately, he had more to say about Grandi than his own skiing.
"Its awesome, he skied great today. Its been good for him to be back on the podium, especially in Kitzbuehel here. Hes been looking good all season long and finally we started getting something going," said Cousineau.
"I did well in the first run but in the second I made some mistakes. Im a little disappointed with that run but other than that I was starting far back and climbed into 15 th . Its the second race in a row that Ive qualified now. I gained World Cup points and for the next race Im really confident. It proves I can be there with those guys."
Sundays slalom rounded out a mediocre week for the mens team. In the downhill on Thursday, Vincent Lavoie of Quebec City was the top Canadian in 27 th place. Whistlers Jeff Hume was 43 rd but showed his potential in the training and qualifying runs.
In the super G on Friday, Lavoie was once again the only Canadian in the top-30, finishing in 29 th place. David Anderson of Rossland was 36 th and Hume 43 rd once again.
In the second downhill on Saturday (the first was a make-up event), Lavoie moved up to 22 nd .
Hume did not finish that race after an jump in the final gates left him hung up in the safety netting. He suffered a bruised chest and a concussion, and was out cold for more than a minute. Still, he managed to walk off the course under his own power.
"He is in one piece and his knees are okay, but hes had a concussion. He doesnt remember anything," said head coach Burkhard Schaffer. "For sure he will not ski next week. But whether its one, two or three weeks off we will have to wait and see.
"It is a good thing he is so physically strong. If he wasnt he would have been a mess."
Although he got several World Cup starts last year, this is Humes first full season on the World Cup circuit. This wasnt his first crash Hume is quickly earning a reputation of being a bit of Crazy Canuck, and for always skiing on edge.
Forsyth, Janyk quick in Slovenia
The Canadian women also had reason to celebrate after their performance at Maribor, Slovenia over the weekend.
Nanaimos Allison Forsyth put her ongoing struggle against tendonitis in her hips behind her on Saturday, posting her best World Cup result of the season in the giant slalom.
Forsyth, who was once ranked fourth in the World in the GS before her health problems, finished in sixth place.
"My hips were very bad until about 48 hours ago," said Forsyth. "Ive been working with our physio Kent (Kobelka) on different things, and this deep tissue massage seems to be doing the trick."
Forsyth was 27 th after the first run, one spot back of 18-year-old Brigitte Acton of Sault Ste-Marie, Ontario, who was making her World Cup GS debut.
Forsyth turned up the intensity for her second run, posting one of the fastest second times to move up an incredible 21 positions in the standings.
"I didnt trust my hips in the first run and was very cautious, hesitant to put pressure over the ski.
"But in the second run, I gave it everything. Im definitely on the rebound."
Acton dropped a couple of places in her second run, finishing 25 th not bad for her first ever World Cup race.
Whistlers Britt Janyk just missed qualifying after landing in 32 nd after the first race.
Janyk, 23, made amends the following day in the slalom, where she was the only Canadian in the competition. She finished in 25 th place.
Last winter Janyk earned 11 top-25 finishes on the World Cup circuit, including three top-10 finishes.
She injured her knee in the season-opener in Austria this year, and since her recovery she has only once managed to qualify for a second run.
"Im happy," she said. "This is definitely a step forward in the right direction. Its been a tough season. Ive been struggling to get results since my injury.
"I know my skiing is there, but I havent had the confidence to go along with it."
Injuries have been the story for Team Canada this year. In addition to Hume and Janyk, both Melanie Turgeon and Erik Guay are out for the rest of the season. Genevieve Simard is currently sidelined but hopes to return next weekend.