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Janyk, Simard make top 15



Hermannator astounds with World Cup victory

Warm weather persisted in Europe for the latest round of World Cup races, resulting in wet snow and racing conditions that got choppier and slower from skier to skier.

Nevertheless, two of Canada’s top women, Val-Morin’s Genevieve Simard and Whistler’s Britt Janyk, managed to move up the ranks in the giant slalom in Maribor, Slovenia on Jan. 25, jumping from their starting positions in the mid-20s to the top-15.

Simard was the top Canadian, finishing the day in ninth place after putting down the fastest second run of the day. The result followed a 13 th place finish in Cortina, Italy, the week before.

"I feel it’s finally coming together," said the 22-year-old. "Being 20 th all the time, I have to be honest, I was getting a little bitter. I needed to snap out of it… Confidence is everything. I was really fired up in the start. I was confident and inspired, so it’s easy to race when you feel that way."

Simard started the day with bib 24, and moved up to 18 th after her first run. Her second run enabled her to jump to the ninth position.

Janyk started the day with bib 25, and moved up to 13 th after her first run. She only managed to move up one more spot on her second run, but overall she was pleased.

"I’m really, really satisfied with my day," she said. "I didn’t qualify last weekend at Cortina. It’s because I was sick, but still it made me unsure about this weekend. This builds my racing confidence."

The two were joined in the top-30 by Allison Forsyth, who finished the day in 23 rd after starting the day with bib number 13.

The Canadians were ecstatic, with only the Austrian and Italian teams putting more racers in the top-30.

Anja Paerson of Sweden was a shoe-in for the gold medal by building a 1.5 second lead over the competition on her first run. While Nicole Hosp of Austria was able to beat Paerson handily in the second run, Paerson still came through by almost 0.8 seconds. Third place went to Martina Ertl of Germany.

In the slalom event the following day, the Canadians were frustrated. Janyk came the closest to earning a second run, finishing 32 nd on her first run. Emily Brydon of Fernie was 41 st .

Meanwhile the men were at Kitzbühel, Austria for downhill, slalom, super-G and Combined events.

The Canadian team didn’t have any members start in the snowy, shortened downhill on the world’s most dangerous course. The race went to Daron Rahlves of the U.S. He was followed by Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway.

In the slalom, Alberta’s Thomas Grandi was on pace for a top-10 finish when he straddled a gate on his second run and went off-course. Teammate Julien Cousineau moved up more than 30 spots, from 76 th to 41 st , and was within a fraction of a second of the top-30 to qualify for a second run.

In the super-G and combined event, no Canadians competed, but they were on hand to witness one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

After nearly losing his leg in a motorcycle crash two summers ago, Hermann Maier vowed to return to the World Cup circuit, and devoted most of the last year to his recovery. He started entering races two weeks earlier, and in five races had steadily improved until he was back in the top-10.

The former Olympic and world champion, once the most dominant skier on the World Cup circuit, had his doubts whether he would be able to ski as well as he had in the past, with a 36-centimetre screw holding together his right leg.

"I am totally surprised," he said after winning the super G. "I would never have though that things would move so quickly after my injury. This is one of my greatest acheivements."

Maier led a home-country blitz of the super-G, as Austrians swept the top five positions and eight of the top 10. Christoph Gruber was second and Stephan Eberharter third.

In a night slalom on Jan. 28 th , Grandi finished in 12 th place in front of more than 45,000 screaming fans at Schladming, Austria. As a result he moved up to 20 th in the World Cup slalom standings.

The Canadians came home to rest for the week leading up to the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland starting Feb. 1.