Tiana Gairns led Canada with a fifth place in the last world cup race before the FIS World Championships.
The 24-year-old won the small final on the second day of racing in Reiteralm, Austria, finishing in the top eight for two days in a row. It was her second small final win of the season.
“I had a good day; I had lots of fun out there, had some passing and some heats where I was struggling a little bit, but overall, I felt really good with my skiing, and I ended up in 5th,” Gairns said. “I’m going to carry this into the next race.”
While Reiteralm features a tamer start, it’s one of the larger tracks on the world cup circuit, forcing skiers to harness passing opportunities over elements not seen on many tracks worldwide.
“This hill requires a lot of aggression, and there’s a lot of fine lines between too much and too little,” she added. “If you do too little, you get passed and left behind, and if you do too much, you get a yellow card; I’m just trying to race my best.”
Fellow Canadians Marielle Thompson, India Sherret and Courtney Hoffos were eliminated in the quarter-final, although Thompson maintained her second-place ranking in the world cup standings.
Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund continued her dominant year with a ninth straight win, while Austria's Sonja Gigler and Italy’s Jole Galli rounded off the podium.
Reece Howden of Cultus Lake, BC, maintained his world cup standings lead on the men’s side despite a challenging couple of races in Reiteralm, finishing ninth on Friday and being eliminated in the quarterfinals, alongside Canadian teammate Kevin Drury who finished 13th.
Brady Leman and Jared Schmidt were eliminated in the 1/8 finals, while Carson Cooke and Kris Mahler didn’t qualify for Friday’s knockout runs.
Switzerland’s Jonas Lenherr took Friday’s top spot, while Great Britain’s Oliver Davies finished second, with Tyler Wallasch of the USA joining them on the podium.
Howden leads the world cup standings by 97 points ahead of Sweden’s David Moaberg, just under one whole race, and holds the golden bib heading into the world championships.
Alpine Canada Alpin will announce the Canadian roster for the FIS Ski Cross World Championships in the coming days. The events in Bakuriani kick off with qualifying runs on Feb. 23.
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Alpine Canada is the governing body for alpine, para-alpine, and ski cross racing in Canada, as well as for Canadian ski coaches, providing education, certification, insurance, and compliance with the coaching code of conduct. With the support of valued corporate partners and donors, along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and the Coaching Association of Canada, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic, World Championship, and World Cup athletes to stimulate visibility, inspiration, and growth in the ski community.