Jan 12, 2014, 8:02 AM EDT
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)
Oct 31, 2014, 6:03 PM EDT
Ledecky, and other women, are entered in mixed-gender distance races in Delaware.
Oct 31, 2014, 5:58 PM EDT
The top U.S. man on Friday finished 10th at the U.S. Championships in January.
Oct 31, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT
The Kenyan won four straight World Marathon Majors.
Oct 31, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT
Bayern Munich soccer player won by a single point.
Oct 31, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT
Russian media reports vary on his health.
Oct 31, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
Norway and Sweden both withdrew 2022 Olympic bids.
Oct 31, 2014, 8:33 AM EDT
But Neymar’s status for Rio 2016 is still very much in question.
Oct 30, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT
Keflezighi faces tough odds to win Sunday, just as in Boston.
Oct 30, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT
The U.S. roster includes zero men who had the fastest time in the world this year in an Olympic event.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT
Figure skating champion joins MLB outfielder, ballerina.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
Anderson is the two-time reigning USA Volleyball Player of the Year.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT
The 2018 World Championships were already awarded.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT
Tennis player flew from Singapore to Denmark to New York this week.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT
Rising black smoke caused brief panic, but the fire was quickly put out.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT
Bruno Grandi was at the helm for a judging overhaul.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT
One of the U.S.’ strongest skaters from last season is not on the team.
Oct 28, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT
Sundquist was a partially eaten gingerbread man, a leg lamp and a flamingo in recent years.
Oct 28, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Either Berlin or Hamburg will be chosen in March.
Oct 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT
Those against Boston hosting an Olympics sent a letter to the USOC.
Oct 28, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT
Judge rules in lawsuit over environmental concerns.
- Boston, Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo fails drug test 0
- Neymar will be on Brazil’s Olympic soccer team, coach says 0
- Meb Keflezighi in familiar spot as New York City Marathon underdog 0
- Matt Anderson taking break from volleyball due to depression 0
- Caroline Wozniacki nervous for New York City Marathon, even in her dreams 0
- Prosecutors to appeal Oscar Pistorius verdict, sentence 3
- Russian triumphs at Skate America; Gracie Gold third (video) 4
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)