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. Gwen Jorgensen wins seventh straight World Triathlon Series event

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:24 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    It marked Jorgensen’s largest margin of victory in her World Triathlon Series career.

  2. Meryl Davis, Charlie White won’t compete next season

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT

    Meryl Davis, Charlie White Getty Images

    But they haven’t decided on the 2018 Olympics.

  3. Watch World Figure Skating Championships — 8 p.m. ET

    Mar 28, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Gracie Gold Getty Images

    Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Tracy Wilson are on the call.

  4. Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman competitive with U.S. teammates in comeback

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT

    Gabby Douglas

    How they fared against World champion Simone Biles.

  5. Javier Fernandez wins upset World Championship; top American fourth

    Mar 28, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “I don’t know if it’s going to ever happen again.”

  6. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva wins World Championship; U.S. just misses medals

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:53 AM EDT

    Elizaveta Tuktamysheva Getty Images

    Next year, Tuktamysheva can go for a feat not seen since 2001.

  7. U.S., Canada women’s hockey teams renew rivalry at World Championships

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The U.S. has a new former NHL player as head coach, is missing a major Sochi star and hopes to end a losing streak to Canada.

  8. How to watch Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman’s comeback gymnastics meet

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT

    Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman Getty Images

    The Olympic champions are slated to compete for the first time since London 2012 this weekend.

  9. Yuzuru Hanyu tops World Championships short program; Jason Brown leads Americans

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT

    Yuzuru Hanyu Getty Images

    The U.S. men are unlikely to secure three spots for the 2016 World Championships.

  10. Madison Chock, Evan Bates take ice dance silver at World Championships

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    A French couple became the youngest World champions in 40 years.

  11. U.S. women struggle, trail Russian brilliance after World Championships short program

    Mar 26, 2015, 10:14 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Elizaveta Tuktamysheva landed a triple Axel in one of the greatest short programs of all time.

  12. Canadians win World pairs title; best U.S. finish since 2011

    Mar 26, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The last time Canada won a World title in pairs was before the 2002 judging scandal.

  13. U.S. pairs outside top five after World Championships short program

    Mar 25, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT

    AP AP

    A slight improvement could mark the best U.S. pairs finishes since 2002.

  14. Usain Bolt to race individually in U.S. for first time since 2008

    Mar 25, 2015, 9:13 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Bolt’s last appearance in New York produced his first world record.

  15. Madison Chock, Evan Bates top World Championships short dance with personal best

    Mar 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Olympians could become the second U.S. ice dance couple to win a World Championship.

  16. Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir preview World Championships men’s, pairs events

    Mar 24, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Olympic and World champion returns to the site of a bloody collision.

  17. Boston 2024 calls for statewide referendum for Olympic bid

    Mar 24, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    Boston 2024

    Boston will not move forward with an Olympic bid if a majority of state and city residents don’t support it.

  18. Watch USA Luge video promoting fastest sport on ice

    Mar 24, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    USA Luge

    Olympians Erin Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer star in an inside look at the sport.

  19. U.S. would top 2016 Olympic medal standings in virtual projection

    Mar 24, 2015, 9:27 AM EDT

    Rio 2016

    Tuesday marked 500 days out from the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.

  20. Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir preview World Championships women’s, ice dance events

    Mar 23, 2015, 5:50 PM EDT

    Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold, Polina Edmunds Getty Images

    Three U.S. women have a shot at the podium, and an American ice dance couple could win gold.