Fifth place finish was Canadas best
The Canadian Alpine Ski Team is coming home for Christmas with a few regrets but a lot of potential. Last weekend the men were in Val Gardena, Italy, and the women were in Val dIsere, France.
On Dec. 14, the home field advantage on the downhill course went to the Italian team, which put two athletes on the podium. Kristian Ghedina won his 13 th career victory, and Kurt Sulzenbacher was third. Lasse Kjus of Norway won the silver medal.
The current overall World Cup leader, Austrias Stefan Eberharter, finished in fourth place.
Two Canadians took a shot at the challenging Saslong run, and Darin McBeath of Calgary, managed to finish in 31 st place. Ed Podivinsky did not finish his run.
Meanwhile the womens super-G was cancelled due to a heavy snowfall at Val dIsere. It was the third of six womens speed events to be cancelled this season.
On the following day, Eberharter took over to win his third gold medal and fifth podium finish of the season in the second Val Gardena downhill. His teammate Michael Walchofer was second, while Norways Kjetil-Andre Aamodt took the bronze. Ghedina had to settle for fourth, and will have to wait another year before he can surpass Austrian Franz Klammers record of four wins at Val Gardena.
The Canadians showed marked improvement, however, with McBeath tying for 22 nd and Podivinsky finished 28 th .
"That was a very important race and result for me," said McBeath. "Not so much because of the position but because of the time difference. Its the first time in a long time that I feel able to be in control of my run and my skis and to be aggressive."
McBeaths time of 2 minutes 2.93 seconds was just 1.69 seconds behind Eberharter.
The weather improved for the Canadian women on Saturday, and Quebecs Melanie Turgeon finished 15 th in the super-G.
"It wasnt a great result," said Turgeon. "The top part of the course was really tight and thats where my lack of training really was against me. I lost over a second at the top but then after that didnt lose any extra time at the bottom."
Gerg Hilde of Germany took the gold medal, followed by Renate Goetschl, Tanja Schneider and Alexandra Meissnitzer, all of Austria.
On Dec. 16, the Canadian teams prospects got a lot better after Nanaimos Allison Forsyth laid down the fastest second run of the day.
However a slower first run meant she watched helplessly on the sidelines as four skiers proceeded to edge past her time and bump her down to fifth place.
"Its still top five and its nothing to complain about," said Forsyth, 23. "I made an error in the first run and when you make an error like I did, you kind of lose the podium."
As far as shes concerned, she right where she wants to be for the Olympics.
"Im right on form in the GS," she said. "Its definitely my favourite event as well as the one Im best at. Im looking forward to skiing it in the Olympics.
"I dont think Ive peaked yet, so thats a good thing."
Sonja Nef of Switzerland won gold, Anja Paerson of Sweden the silver, and Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria the bronze.
Forsyth currently sits seventh overall in the World Cup giant slalom standings.
Ann Prchal of Quebec also managed to crack the top 30, tying for 24 th overall.
The mens giant slalom at Alta Badia, Italy, went to French skier Frederic Covili, his second win of the season. Micheal Von Gruenigen of Switzerland was second, followed by Sami Uotila of Finland.
None of the Canadians qualified for a second run (top 30), although Whistlers Ryan Oughtred was 35 th and just 0.11 seconds from making the cut.