Skip to content

Canada’s Marie-Michele Gagnon gets 1st World Cup victory in Altenmarkt super-combined

Jan 12, 2014, 8:02 AM EDT

Marie-Michele Gagnon AP

Thought it was going to be another day of Austrian home cooking in Altenmarkt, eh?

Well, Canada had something to say about that.

Technical specialist Marie-Michele Gagnon kept herself within reasonable striking distance on the opening super-G leg and then rose to the occasion in slalom, watching with baited breath as many of her faster peers faltered, insuring her of her first career World Cup victory in Sunday’s super-combined, the one and only race before next month’s Sochi Olympics.

Since the inception of super-combined in 2005-06, no Canadian skier in either gender had made a podium in this discipline. Canada’s last World Cup podium in any combination race was Emily Broydon’s third place in the San Sicaro combined in February 2005, and its last victory was by Gerry Sorensenin in 1984.

“It’s really exciting, a magical moment,” Gagnon, who wasn’t even born when Sorensenin won, told AP. “All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. I couldn’t be happier. “My teammate Erin Mielzynski won two years ago in Ofterschwang. She was the first Canadian woman to win in slalom in like 40 years. That was unbelievable and I didn’t expect our team to make history again.”

Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser finished second while Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch regained the World Cup overall standings lead with a third-place finish. Nicole Hosp of Austria, who led after the opening super-G run, wound up fourth, ahead of Sweden’s Sara Hector and reigning World Cup champion Tina Maze of Slovenia.

It was a rough day for the American women, who had four skiers not finish the race. Surprisingly, their difficulties occurred in the super-G, where speed specialists Stacey Cook and Leanne Smith made mistakes and missed gates, as did Vancouver Olympic silver medalist Julia Mancuso, who last won a super-combi in January 2007, and up-and-coming racer Julia Ford.

Most of the 19 starters who failed to finish the super-G went out at the Panorama, a sharp right turn about 40 seconds into the run. Going into the curve with too much speed made it difficult to make the next gate.

Laurenne Ross, the one American speed skier outside of Mancuso who is most comfortable on slalom skis, survived that turn to make it to the second run. She finished 20th.

Since December 2007, there have been 15 super-combined races contested on the World Cup circuit and only four skiers have teamed to win all those races. American Lindsey Vonn won five, Hoefl-Riesch won four, and Maze and Anja Paerson of Sweden each won three.

With Vonn not skiing as she prepares for a second surgery on her injured right knee and Paerson, the six time Olympic medalist, now retired, who would emerge to challenge Hoefl-Riesch and Maze for the top of the podium?

Gagnon might not have been anyone’s first choice.

Coming into this race, the 24 year old had attained just one podium finish in her career, a third-place effort in slalom in Are, Sweden in March of 2012, and her best result in a World Cup super-combined was last February’s fifth-place finish in Meribel, France.

But the opening run, which is usually a downhill, was contested as a super-G, which suits Gagnon’s strengths. This season, she has finished in the top 10 in two of the three super-G races. She gave herself a fighting chance by finishing 13th, 1.37 seconds behind Hosp, who won a World Cup combi in 2007, the last skier outside of the aforementioned four who have dominated the event recently to have done so.

While a gap of nearly a second and a half would be insurmountable in other disciplines, that is not the case in super-combined, where the speed racers often get off to a flying start but are humbled in the slalom. That proved to be the case once again in this instance, where Gagnon, who dates American speed racer Travis Ganong, built herself a .32 seconds advantage after her slalom run and watched as 12 other skiers failed to overtake her.

“It’s amazing. I was quite surprised,” Gagnon said. “I didn’t expect that after the first run. I knew I had to do a really good slalom run to be on the podium. I just tried to do my best and it looks like the pieces of the puzzle have come together.”

Altenmarkt Women’s Super-Combined

1. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 2:05.55

2. Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) 2:05.87

3. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 2:05.94

4. Nicole Hosp (AUT) 2:06.06

5. Sara Hector (SWE) 2:06.42

6. Tina Maze (SLO) 2:06.68

7. Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) 2:06.72

8. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 2:06.73

9. Sarka Strachova (CZE) 2:06.82

10. Denise Feierabend (SUI) 2:06.86

20. Laurenne Ross (USA) 2:08.70

DNF. Julia Mancuso (USA)

DNF. Stacey Cook (USA)

DNF. Leanne Smith (USA)

DNF. Julia Ford (USA)

Picabo Street believes Lindsey Vonn will race for one more season

Latest Posts
  1. Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir to sit out season

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:41 PM EDT

    Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir Getty Images

    Canadians not ruling out return to ice dancing.

  2. Noora Raty plays men’s hockey in Finland; Shannon Szabados set to return to Columbus

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Noora Raty Getty Images

    Raty nearly did something two Canadian Olympic women’s goalies couldn’t do against the men.

  3. Skylar Diggins, 2 others cut after Team USA’s first loss since 2011

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:41 PM EDT

    Skylar Diggins Getty Images

    U.S. women must cut one more player before FIBA World Championships.

  4. Carolina Kostner called in for doping hearing again Friday

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT

    Carolina Kostner Getty Images

    Figure skater to be questioned over doping by her ex-boyfriend, Olympic champ race walker.

  5. Kosuke Hagino: I’m trying to become like Michael Phelps

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    Michael Phelps, Kosuke Hagino Getty Images

    World’s greatest swimmer on display at Asian Games.

  6. Scary crash at World Road Cycling Championships (video)

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

    Anna Van der Breggen Getty Images

    Lead cyclist hits fence, trailing cyclist breaks pelvis.

  7. Poland wins World Volleyball Championship at home, pandemonium (photos, videos)

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT

    World Volleyball Championship Poland Getty Images

    Upset of dynastic Brazil sets off bedlam inside arena, outside streets for host nation.

  8. Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross complete perfect AVP season after wardrobe malfunction

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:35 AM EDT

    April Ross, Kerri Walsh Jennings Getty Images

    Walsh Jennings, Ross played with interesting keys looped through chains Sunday.

  9. Oksana Chusovitina, 39, eyes all-around at World Gymnastics Championships

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:08 AM EDT

    Oksana Chusovitina Getty Images

    Uzbekistan gymnast has competed at World Championships since 1991.

  10. Australia swim star Grant Hackett returns to training, dismisses Rio

    Sep 21, 2014, 8:31 AM EDT

    Grant Hackett Getty Images

    “I would be 36 for Rio. That’s probably just getting on a bit too much.”

  11. Wallace Spearmon fails drug test, banned 3 months

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

    Wallace Spearmon Getty Images

    Spearmon lost a 2008 Olympic medal due to disqualification and finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic 200m.

  12. Viktoria Komova out of World Gymnastics Championships, report says

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Viktoria Komova Getty Images

    Komova won Olympic all-around silver behind Gabby Douglas.

  13. South Korea hockey teams given spots in 2018 Olympics

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:49 AM EDT

    South Korea hockey Getty Images

    There was concern Olympic host nation wouldn’t be able to qualify in hockey.

  14. Carolina Kostner skips hearing in ex-boyfriend’s doping case

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 AM EDT

    Carolina Kostner Getty Images

    Olympic medalist skater could be called in for later hearing.

  15. Jens Voigt bikes 31.7 miles in 1 hour, breaks record

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Jens Voigt Getty Images

    Three-time Olympian rides into retirement by entering history books.

  16. Rio Olympic Village more than 50 percent complete

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Rio Olympic Village

    Work expected to finish in the first half of 2016.

  17. Ato Boldon’s track and field season awards

    Sep 18, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT

    Justin Gatlin Getty Images

    NBC Olympics analyst hands out athlete of the year honors and more.

  18. Yelena Isinbayeva set to return to pole vault training, report says

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Yelena Isinbayeva Getty Images

    Russian Olympic champion gave birth to daughter in June.

Featured video

Yogging a hit at Youth Olympic Games