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)
Sep 22, 2014, 3:41 PM EDT
Canadians not ruling out return to ice dancing.
Sep 22, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Raty nearly did something two Canadian Olympic women’s goalies couldn’t do against the men.
Sep 22, 2014, 1:41 PM EDT
U.S. women must cut one more player before FIBA World Championships.
Sep 22, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
London Games voted No. 1 overall.
Sep 22, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT
Figure skater to be questioned over doping by her ex-boyfriend, Olympic champ race walker.
Sep 22, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT
World’s greatest swimmer on display at Asian Games.
Sep 22, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT
Lead cyclist hits fence, trailing cyclist breaks pelvis.
Sep 22, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT
Upset of dynastic Brazil sets off bedlam inside arena, outside streets for host nation.
Sep 22, 2014, 7:35 AM EDT
Walsh Jennings, Ross played with interesting keys looped through chains Sunday.
Sep 22, 2014, 7:08 AM EDT
Uzbekistan gymnast has competed at World Championships since 1991.
Sep 21, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT
Ledecky broke five world records in two months this year.
Sep 21, 2014, 8:31 AM EDT
“I would be 36 for Rio. That’s probably just getting on a bit too much.”
Sep 19, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
Spearmon lost a 2008 Olympic medal due to disqualification and finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic 200m.
Sep 19, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT
Komova won Olympic all-around silver behind Gabby Douglas.
Sep 19, 2014, 8:49 AM EDT
There was concern Olympic host nation wouldn’t be able to qualify in hockey.
Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 AM EDT
Olympic medalist skater could be called in for later hearing.
Sep 18, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT
Three-time Olympian rides into retirement by entering history books.
Sep 18, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
Work expected to finish in the first half of 2016.
Sep 18, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT
NBC Olympics analyst hands out athlete of the year honors and more.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Russian Olympic champion gave birth to daughter in June.
- Kosuke Hagino: I’m trying to become like Michael Phelps 0
- Poland wins World Volleyball Championship at home, pandemonium (photos, videos) 0
- Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross complete perfect AVP season after wardrobe malfunction 0
- Katie Ledecky wins USA Swimming Athlete of the Year; who are World Swimmers of the Year? 0
- Wallace Spearmon fails drug test, banned 3 months 0
- Ato Boldon’s track and field season awards 1
- Analyzing the U.S. gymnastics women’s World Championships team 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (57)
- 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)