Whistler's Mike Janyk came within 0.17 seconds of the slalom podium at Wengen, Switzerland this past weekend, building on his fifth place result at Adelboden the previous week. After a slow start with crashes and straddled gates, Janyk is at last skiing the way he wants.
"After my first run I was starting in a tough spot," he said. "My goal was getting into the top 10 and everything else was a bonus. In the first run I didn't get the snap that I get when I'm skiing well. Right on the second gate (on the second run) I felt it. Then I knew I was going to be able to put it on the line.
"Last week I was fifth, this week fourth. Just three places to go."
Janyk was sitting 17th after his first run, then jumped an unheard of 13 spots to finish just off the podium.
Janyk was in good company, with two of his teammates also cracking the top 20. Brad Spence of Calgary was 13th, his best result of the season, while Julien Cousineau placed 17th.
Janyk actually spent a lot of time in the hot seat at the bottom of the course, and looked like he might even crack the podium until the last three skiers bumped him to fourth.
"Standing there is certainly an experience," he said. "The results will come if I can just take what I did in my second run."
Ivica Kostelic picked up another gold medal at Wengen, his fifth slalom medal of the season, to build on his lead in the overall standings. Marcel Hirscher of Austria was second and Jean-Baptiste Grange of France third.
The other events in Wengen were not as successful for Canada.
Ryan Semple and Dustin Cook were 23rd and 28th in the super combined race, the only Canadians to make both runs. Ivica Kostelic also won that race, followed by Carlo Janka of Switzerland and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.
In the downhill, the top racer was Jan Hudec in 21st, followed by Manuel Osborne-Paradis in 23rd. The win went to Klaus Kroell of Austria, followed by Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka.
In more bad news for the team, Hudec joined the growing injury list after the race. He hit a gate on the course, and while he finished the run he was later diagnosed with a fracture. The injury list now includes John Kucera, Erik Guay, Louis-Pierre Helie and Francois Bourque on the men's side, and Kelly VanderBeek and Kelly McBroom for the women.
Osborne-Paradis has two podium appearances in Wengen in the three seasons before 2011, and was at a loss to explain why he struggled this week.
"I didn't think I was going to be so far back, but who knows?" he said. "It's one of those things. You've just got to take these things and build on them. You've got to figure out why this happened."
Head coach Paul Kristofic, noting that Canada has won just one podium so far this season, was not ready to panic just yet.
"There's lots of racing left," he said. "We will be working hard to improve on where we are right now. We have to move on, get some training and get ready for Kitzbuhel. We are trying to forge forward."
There was a women's night slalom event at Flachau, Austria on Jan. 11. The top Canadian was Anna Goodman in 14th.
The win went to Maria Riesch of Germany, followed by Tanja Poutiainen of Finland and Nastasia Noens of France.
A women's technical series - slalom and giant slalom - at Maribor, Slovenia this past weekend was cancelled due to snow conditions.