Marie-Michele Gagnon has been on the verge all season. She’s finished in the top 10 in three separate disciplines, including slalom and super G, as featured in Sunday’s super combined at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, and she’s finished just shy of the podium, in the top five, on three occasions.
So, with a solid-enough result in the super G and a very strong performance in the slalom, the circumstances were just right for the Canadian to pick up her first career World Cup victory, just her second podium.
“This is incredible,” said Gagnon. “All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. I couldn’t be happier.
It was a clear win for the 24-year-old. Gagnon’s toughest competition came from Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser and Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who each finished just under four-tenths of a second back, in second and third, respectively.
“It’s amazing and to be honest. I was quite surprised,” Gagnon admitted. “I knew I had to do a really good slalom since I was more than a second behind after the super G run. So, I entered the slalom without too much of expectation. I skied freely and that helped me give my best.”
For Canada, it was the nation’s first win in the combined in 30 years.
Warm conditions led to a deteriorating slalom course, which may have favored the likes of Gagnon and Kirchgasser, who ran a bit earlier as a result of less competitive super G finishes — Gagnon finished the morning in 17th, and results were flipped for the slalom start.
There wasn’t much representation by the Americans, as Julia Mancuso, who found her stride Saturday with her best result of the season, did not finish the morning’s super G portion of the race. Stacey Cook, Leanne Smith and Julia Ford were in the same boat. Laurenne Ross, however, skied to 20th, her best World Cup result of the season.
“It wasn’t a bad day for Laurenne, but she knows she’s capable of a lot more speed,” said speed coach Chip White. “And Julia was right in there. She was .06 out of the lead when she made a mistake and went out. I’m really pleased with what Julia was able to accomplish this weekend. Things are moving in a very positive direction with her.
“There isn’t any one thing I can say is slowing us down right now,” he added. “There’s a lot of factors in ski racing you need to produce good results. If you look at all the major nations — Austria, Switzerland — they all go through rough patches. We’re coming off one of the best season’s in history so there’s a lot of expectation on this team for results. But the only expectation I have is for them to be committed to working hard and staying focused.”
For Tina Maze, a new coach — Mauro Pini, who split time Sunday between coaching, setting the slalom course and working the Swiss TV box — didn’t help her cause much. The deadly all-around racer from a season ago was disappointed with sixth. Lara Gut was likewise furious with a 15th-place result after finishing the super G ninth.
Sunday’s results boosted Hoefl-Riesch’s lead in the overall standings, which have shifted often this season. With 731 points, the German now leads Anna Fenninger (709) and Tina Weirather (673), who sit in second and third.
View more photos from this race in our gallery.
By Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup super combined, Altenmarkt, Austria, Jan. 12, 2014
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Gagnon, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
2 Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Hector, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
Women’s World Cup super combined, Altenmarkt, Austria, Jan. 12, 2014. … It is the 19th of 32 races on the women’s schedule. … The first of two scheduled super combined races. … It is the 27th World Cup event hosted by Altenmarkt/Zauchensee.
It is the first career World Cup win for Marie-Michele Gagnon… her best previous combined result had been fifth scored at Meribel Feb. 24, 2013. … It is the second Canadian win of the season after Erik Guay’s DH win at Val Gardena Dec. 21. … It is the 72nd Canadian World Cup win. … It is the first Canadian super combined win in World Cup history.
It is the 14th career World Cup podium for Michaela Kirchgasser… her fourth in combined.
It is the 78th career World Cup podium for Maria Hoefl-Riesch… her tenth in combined. … It is her sixth podium result of the season.
It is the best finish of the season for Laurenne Ross. … It is the first career combined result for Erin Mielzynski.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch holds the World Cup overall standings lead 731-709 over Anna Fenninger (eighth in race). … Tina Weirather (17th in race) is third with 673pts. Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) is fifth overall with 514pts. … Marie-Michele Gagnon is seventh with 427pts.
Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 3125-1778 over Switzerland with Sweden third at 1461pts. … The U.S. is sixth with 930pts and Canada eighth with 681pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|19||2||298084||AGERER Lisa Magdalena||1991||ITA||1:14.83||53.81||2:08.64||+3.09||26.33|
|36||39||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:17.93||56.40||2:14.33||+8.78||74.83|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|57||495318||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA|
|8||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR|