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Janyk kicks off World Cup season in top 20

Whistler skier follows up on impressive outings from Canadian women



After the Canadian women posted strong results at the season's first World Cup slalom, Mike Janyk followed suit to lead the Canadian men.

The Whistler skier finished 20th in his campaign-opener at Levi, Finland, on Sunday, Nov. 17, barely making his way out of the first run but vaulting himself up into the top 20 with a solid second session.

Janyk's result came on the heels of Marie-Michele Gagnon's fifth-place finish in the women's race the day before, as well as a career-best 11th-place showing by Sun Peaks skier Elli Terwiel.

Though Sunday's top-20 result was Janyk's best at Levi since 2009, the 31-year-old was hopeful for a little more out of himself.

"It was OK but I didn't have that sensation on the snow where I could really let it rip," Janyk said in a release. "I pushed to the end and I will build from here."

The 10-year World Cup veteran ranked 28th after one run and made it into the top 30 qualifiers by just one-hundredth of a second. But Janyk is well-known for finding another gear on Run 2 and did so again Sunday, recording the 17th-fastest second run to improve his standing.

"The biggest thing I was happy about was that I was stoked to be in the start gate," said Janyk. "I haven't felt like my old self in the start in over a year but I was really excited to race today. That aspect of my whole preparation was good."

Massimo "Max" Carca, the new head of Canada's technical team, said he was hopeful for better results all around on Sunday but added that tough conditions on the first run made it difficult for his skiers to get a feeling for the snow.

"The analysis for Mike is that he skied some sections great but he needs to understand where it is possible to take risks," said Carca. "The place where he can really make a difference is in the steep. He has the ability to fight with the top skiers in the steep."

Janyk was the only Canadian to make it through to the second run on Sunday. Paul Stutz, Julien Cousineau and Brad Spence were unable to qualify, while Phil Brown did not complete his opening run.

Still, Janyk described Sunday's outing as "Step 1" for a young Canadian technical team in rebuilding mode.

"As a team we were dead in the water last year and pretty much gone from the scene so it's going to take some reigniting to get back up there," he said.

Austria's Marcel Hirscher took the victory by a comfortable margin over teammate Mario Matt. Norwegian teen Henrik Kristoffersen placed third for the first World Cup podium of his career.

In the women's race, Gagnon earned her second-straight top 10 of the year; she finished 10th at the giant slalom held in Austria in October. The top-five finish on Saturday also cemented her place on Canada's Olympic team later this winter, making her the first Canadian skier to do so.

"I'm stoked — just super happy that this race brought me fifth place and so, so happy for Elli. She was awesome today," said Gagnon.

Terwiel's previous best results in World Cup racing were a pair of 17th-place finishes earned last winter.

"When I came down at the end of the first run I was fourth and I did a little bit of an open-jawed spin-around in the finish," said the 24-year-old. "It was a little too good to be true."

Fellow Canadians Britt Phelan, Anna Goodman and Erin Mielzynski were unable to advance to a second run.

The World Cup circuit now comes over to North America for the next few weeks for speed races at Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, Colo., starting at the end of November. Janyk's next race is scheduled for Dec. 15 at Val d'Isere, France.