The 2011-2012 World Cup season for alpine came to a close last week with the World Cup Finals at Schladming, Austria. To qualify you had to rank in the top 25 of a discipline, and despite a strong finish to the season for the team just six Canadians qualified — Whistler's Mike Janyk, speed stars Jan Hudec, Erik Guay and Ben Thomsen, and slalom medallists Erin Mielzynski and Marie-Michèle Gagnon.
In the final men's downhill, Jan Hudec led the team in eighth place, followed by Benjamin Thomsen in 10th and Erik Guay in 13th. All three athletes have been on the podium this season and were looking for more, but were happy overall.
"If you had told me at the beginning of the season that I would finish and be in the points, well, I'm pretty stoked with that," said Hudec. Thomsen's 10th place finish bumped him up one spot to 15th in the downhill standings — far ahead of where he thought he'd finish in only his second season on World Cup.
"I haven't had much time to take it all in but as soon as (Norway's Kjetil) Jansrud didn't finish I knew I had finished top 15," he said. "It's been a hell of a season. I'm speechless."
Lindsey Vonn won the final women's downhill race, with the silver medal going to Marion Rolland of France and the bronze to Tina Maze of Slovenia. Vonn finished the season with 17 medals, 12 of them gold. That ties her record of medal wins, but with more gold medals 2011-2012 is her best season yet. In nine seasons she's won an incredible 97 medals.
In the super G, Hudec placed 12th and Guay 19th.
In the slalom, Michael Janyk finished his season with a 10th place finish, once again moving up the rankings with a fast second run — his modus operandi for the season. This time around he posted the second-fastest second run of the day.
"It was nice to enjoy racing again," said Janyk. "The approach, the attitude and the confidence on the skis were there. When I feel confident with my skis I know I can push it."
In the women's slalom the team was represented by Marie-Michele Gagnon and Erin Miezynski, both of whom won their first career World Cup medals in slalom earlier in March.
Mielzynski, the first Canadian female racer in 40 years to win a World Cup slalom, had a disappointing day when she skied off course. Gagnon, who has been Canada's best all-around skier this year, had a much better day. She was tied for 10th after the first run and posted one of the fastest second runs to move up to sixth.
"In the first run I made a mistake," said Gagnon. "I knew I needed to bring it up a notch for the next run. Maybe I was just holding back a little bit.
"In the second run there was a crazy tail turner but I was like 'No, I'm going to keep going.' That's the kind of thing I'm used to recovering from! I got mad and just ripped the next part."
How the Canadians Ranked
Jan Hudec ranked sixth in the super G standings, ninth in downhill and 16th overall.
Erik Guay finished his season with a silver and bronze in downhill, and was ranked seventh in downhill, 12th in super G and 19th overall.
Benjamin Thomsen earned a silver medal in downhill this year and finished 15th in downhill and 42nd overall.
Mike Janyk was 21st in slalom and 59th overall.
Marie-Michèle Gagnon finished her season ranked 10th in slalom, with a bronze medal in the discipline, and 12th in combined. Overall she was ranked 21st.
Erin Mielzynski won a gold medal in slalom and placed 15th in the slalom standings and 42nd overall.