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Tentative start for Canadian skiers

Two athletes in top 30 at Soelden



The alpine World Cup season got underway last weekend with a giant slalom at Soelden, Austria.

American skier Ted Ligety won the men's race, continuing his three-event winning streak in GS from last season. Alexis Pinturault of France was second by just under three-tenths of a second, with Philipp Schoerghofer of Austria picking up the bronze medal.

Also of note in the top 10 were the results of two other French skiers, Thomas Fanara and Steve Missillier in sixth and eighth to give the team three in the top 10. Austria and the U.S. placed two athletes in the top 10, with Austria's Marcel Hirscher in a tie for sixth and American Bode Miller in ninth.

The top Canadian was Jean-Philippe Roy in 22nd - not a bad result considering that he is coming off a knee injury and was competing for the first time since January 2011. He also managed the 22nd position with a start bib of 53.

"The snow was okay on the first run but it was hard," he said. "I got tired pretty quick but I just kept on fighting and fighting.

"I didn't think the result would be that good but then I was 30th and made the (cut for a second run). I think that's the fourth time I've been 30th (at Soelden). In the second run I just tried to ski solid and move forward."

The other Canadians were frustrated by late starting conditions. Dustin Cook started 68th and finished 57th. Whistler's Robbie Dixon, coming back from a head injury, started 51st but did not finish his first run.

"I didn't do what I needed to do, which was pretty frustrating, but that's racing," said Dixon, who hadn't raced since December 2010. "I don't know if it's because mentally I was a bit nervous in my first race back in a long time."

In the women's race the previous day Marie Michele-Gagnon was the top Canadian in 25th. She was 19th on her first run but made a mistake on her second run to drop back.

"I over-charged it, if anything," she said. I was doing really well but I made a little mistake and lost all my speed.

"First run I was a little disappointed, too, but I have to stay realistic. I know I'm a way better skier than last year and it's going to be a good season."

Marie-Pier Prefontaine also competed, going off course during her first run.

Coach Hugues Ansermoz was not too concerned about that.

"She's been skiing very well - she's been very consistent," he said. "This was the worst run she's done. She didn't really find her rhythm on top."

American Lindsey Vonn jumped from fourth overall to first with a strong second run. If you're counting that was her 42nd World Cup win in her nine seasons of racing.

Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was second by four one-hundredths of a second, followed by Elisabeth Goergl of Germany. With Anne Fenninger in sixth and Kathrin Zettel in seventh, Austrian skiers posted three in the top 10. The U.S. boasted two in the top 10 with Julia Mancuso in 10th, while Sweden also got off to a strong start with Maria Piertilae-Holmer in fifth and Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in eighth.

Next up on the World Cup circuit is a slalom race in Levi, Finland on Nov. 12 to 13, followed by Lake Louise Winterstart and Aspen at the end of November.




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