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Slow week for Canadian skiers

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Grandi 11 th , Janyk 12 th in World Cup

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team had an off-weekend on the World Cup circuit, which is a minor setback after their recent success.

It started off well on Saturday with Thomas Grandi making yet another top-15 finish, this time in the classic giant slalom event at Adelboden, Switzerland. The horrible weather conditions – sleet, rain, slush and generally poor visibility – left the race wide open, taking some of the top contenders out of the running.

Grandi was in eighth place after the first run, and was the only Canadian to qualify for a second run. With the rain getting worse as the day progressed, Grandi counted himself lucky to only drop three placed into 11 th with his second run. His total time of two minutes, 34.24 seconds was only slightly more than two seconds off the pace, but well back of where any of the top skiers would have been in ideal conditions.

"It was scary," said Grandi, 31. "It wasn’t an easy race. It was tough to see in the second run.

"Maybe I was a little timid on the second run. I kept telling myself ‘go forward, go forward,’ but I was hesitating a little and that makes it a bouncier ride and then everything goes downhill."

Julien Cousineau put his goggle lenses on inside out, and was unable to see through the fog. Jean-Philippe Roy of Ste-Flavie, Quebec moved up 15 places from 53 rd into 38 th but couldn’t make it to a second run. "After three gates, you couldn’t see anything," he said.

Ryan Semple of Ottawa fell at the top of the course, but managed to get up and finish in 44 th with a slight thumb sprain. Rossland’s David Anderson hit a slushy patch and went off course.

Kalle Palander of Finland took the win, followed by Massimiliano Blardone of Italy and Heinz Schilchegger of Austria.

The men got a second crack at the course on Sunday for a slalom race with much better weather conditions. Unfortunately only Grandi managed to qualify for a second run, once again, sitting 11 th after his first run. Disaster struck on his second run when Grandi flew of the course into the safety net.

He was OK, which is a relief for a team with a long injury list, but frustrated.

"I’m not sure what happened," he said. "I hit a rut or something. It’s something that never happens in training. It’s not something which could have been avoided."

Julien Cousineau of Lachute, Quebec just missed qualifying after finishing in 31 st place.

Whistler’s Michael Janyk, who is still looking for his first top-30 result, went off course at one point. Rather than not finish, he hiked back to the top and finished the race – posting a top-30 time (22 nd ) on the bottom split.

"I fell on the fourth gate but I skied really well after that and I skied well in the morning," said Janyk. "I felt really confident with my skiing but it’s one of those things.

"I’m pretty confident in my skiing right now and so I just wanted to get down with a good run and see where I stood. I haven’t had a good run yet, a clean run, to see where I stand in World Cup now."

The gold wen to Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria. Bode Miller of the U.S. was second and Benjamin Raich of Austria third.

Meanwhile, Michael’s older sister Britt Janyk was holding her own in the women’s giant slalom at Region Arber, Germany. She was in sixth after the first run, but with the reverse start order she lost some ground on a rough second run. Still, she finished 12 th , leading the Canadian team to three top-30 finishes.

"It was definitely a fight the whole way through," said Janyk. "I’m really happy to have a top-15 result here today.

"It was definitely warm – it was plus seven at 7 a.m. this morning. The course was really rough because of the water injection and the chemicals they used to try to keep it firm. There were a lot of ripples. The conditions were difficult but really consistent for everyone."

National team rookie Gail Kelly of Ste-Anges de Beauce, Quebec, sat in 14 th after her first run and in 23 rd after run number two.

"Finally, I’ve qualified," said Kelly. "I’ve been gaining more confidence through the FIS and Europa Cup races, but today’s result makes such a big difference."

Allison Forsyth of Nanaimo was 22 nd after her first run and slipped to 25 th . Genevieve Simard just missed qualifying, finishing 31 st in her first run.

The women’s technical team has had a rough season so far, with Forsyth still rehabilitating her hips for tendonitis, Simard recently sidelined for weeks with bruises and strains, and Janyk missing the first part of the season with a knee injury.

Technical team coaches Jim Pollock and Matt Kerr have had to adjust their program to rebuild the confidence levels of their athletes in Europa Cup and FIS races. So far the plan has worked, as Janyk and Kelly have built on their success in FIS and Europa Cup on the World Cup circuit.

"We’ve been working so well together – myself, Gail, Jim and Matt – since the new year and it’s coming through," said Janyk. "Our focus, our training, everything is where it needs to be to have more days like this."

Anja Paerson of Sweden took the gold, followed by Tina Maze of Slovenia and Renate Goetschl of Austria.

In the women’s slalom on Sunday, Janyk failed to qualify for a second run.

Anja Paerson of Sweden took her second gold in as many days. Monika Bergmann-Schmuderer was second and Veronika Zuzulova of Slovakia third.

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