Jan 12, 2014, 8:02 AM EST
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)
Dec 19, 2014, 2:27 PM EST
Rome 2024 bid could include events in Vatican City.
Dec 19, 2014, 1:23 PM EST
Marathon route over Golden Gate Bridge.
Dec 19, 2014, 12:41 PM EST
Phelps was supported by retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
Dec 19, 2014, 9:11 AM EST
Nyman has won three World Cup races, all in Italy.
Dec 18, 2014, 4:39 PM EST
“He was incredible at that, almost befriending you, and then he’d slip the knife in your back.”
Dec 18, 2014, 3:33 PM EST
Colbert had a memorable time at the 2010 Olympic speed skating oval and in an interview with Bob Costas in Vancouver.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Olympic champion tore an ankle ligament in November.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:14 AM EST
Vonn entered five races in Vancouver 2010. She may never do that again at a global championship.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:38 PM EST
Decision details Gay’s acquisition and use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:31 PM EST
Fukushima’s previous governor pitched the area to be part of Tokyo 2020, too.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:29 PM EST
A look at host nation medal contenders for Rio 2016.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:37 PM EST
“It is breach of privacy with malicious target to soil my name.”
Dec 17, 2014, 1:51 PM EST
Japanese teen says he wasn’t satisfied winning silver in Sochi.
Dec 17, 2014, 9:55 AM EST
History shows that’s quite an ambitious goal.
Dec 16, 2014, 7:12 PM EST
USOC could wait until February to announce its city.
Dec 16, 2014, 11:36 AM EST
Bacteria found next to the starting point for Rio Olympic sailing events.
Dec 16, 2014, 9:57 AM EST
South Korea’s most decorated LPGA Tour player would have a tough time qualifying for Rio 2016.
Dec 15, 2014, 1:51 PM EST
Two retired running backs could join a long list of NFL Olympians.
Dec 15, 2014, 1:38 PM EST
Roger Federer won the Swiss men’s award, in a year he didn’t win a Grand Slam, over a Slam winner and a two-time Sochi gold medalist.
Dec 15, 2014, 11:49 AM EST
The USOC is expected to announce if it will bid for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday, and possibly name the city.
- Michael Phelps gets probation after guilty plea in DUI case 2
- Stephen Colbert and the Olympics 0
- U.S. will bid for 2024 Olympics, no city chosen yet 6
- Adrian Peterson won’t try for Olympics, but other RBs might 2
- Rio Olympic track and field schedule released 1
- Rome to bid for 2024 Olympics, possible events in Vatican City 0
- Yuzuru Hanyu repeats as Grand Prix Final champion (video) 0
- 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)