Calgary, Alta. (January 9, 2017) – The next generation of alpine greats have been braving tough conditions on the Nor-Am circuit as they prepare for the big show on the World Cup tour. With stops in Canada and the U.S.A. well underway, we’ve recapped the highlights below. For full results and standings, please visit the FIS site here.
Lake Louise, Alberta (2x men’s downhill, 2x women’s downhill)
The Nor-Am Cup series kicked off with two downhill races in Lake Louise, Alberta. Downright frigid temperatures were the theme for the week, however blue bird skies kept the sun shining and faces smiling. Both the men and women kicked off the speed season, running the downhill track at Lake Louise and gaining valuable speed miles.
In the first downhill race, Canadian Alpine Ski Team members, Tyler Werry and Broderick Thompson, finished in second and third-place respectively behind U.S. Ski Team athlete, Nick Krause. Krause took the win by 0.14 seconds. In the second day of downhill races, Werry found redemption winning by 0.11 seconds and Thompson finished in second-place.
Canadian Alpine Development Ski Team athlete, Stefanie Fleckenstein, who ran the World Cup downhill and super-G races at Lake Louise just days before the Nor-Am, proved the experience was worthwhile. Fleckenstein took the win on day one of races earning her first career Nor-Am victory. On the second downhill day, Fleckenstein moved into third-place.
Panorama, British Columbia – (2x men’s super-G, 1x men’s alpine combined, 2x women’s super-G, 1x women’s alpine combined)
The speed series continued in Canada where Panorama held the first super-G and alpine combined races of the season.
In the first super-G of the season, Canadians crowded the podium with two national team athletes tying for second-place. Brodie Seger and Jack Crawford finished 0.50 seconds out from the first-place time. Seger went on to claim another second-place finish in the second day of super-G races.
The alpine combined race was held on day three of races at Panorama where Crawford found himself on the podium again finishing in third-place, 0.68 off the winning pace.
In the women’s super-G races, Fleckenstein had the top Canadian spot finishing in third-place in the second super-G. She was 0.59 seconds from the first-place time, bettering her ninth-place finish in the first super-G race. The top Canadian in the first super-G was Antonia Wearmouth in fifth-place.
It was a Canadian sweep for the women in the alpine combined race with Amelia Smart taking the top spot, Fleckenstein in second-place and Ali Nullmeyer in third-place. All athletes are members of the Canadian Alpine Development Ski Team.
Panorama, British Columbia – (2x men’s giant slalom, 2x women’s slalom)
Panorama held the first tech races of the season where the men raced two giant slaloms and the women competed in two slaloms.
Canadian Alpine Ski Team member, Phil Brown, won both giant slalom races. In the first race, William St. Germain from Canada tied for second-place, 0.11 seconds from the winning time.
In the slalom races, Canadian women dominated. Canadian Alpine Ski Team member, Erin Mielzynski, handily won both races, dominating all four runs. In the first race, she outpaced the field by an incredible 1.29 seconds in the first run and built on her lead for the second run.
Nullmeyer finished in second-place in both races and Smart finished with two third-places.
Laurence St. Germain, another Canadian Ski Team member and athlete at the University of Vermont, was in the field, landing her first Nor-Am result of the season. St. Germain returned to the NorAm circuit from the World Cup tour, gaining some confidence before heading back to Europe. She came in fifth on the first day, but decided to skip the second race due to some soreness in her knee.
St. Germain partially tore her meniscus while training in Chile, and she said she is just beginning to ski like herself again. Since there is a break in the World Cup slalom schedule, she decided to come back to her native country to continue competing.
“It was nice to have a second run for once,” St. Germain said. “It’s always good when you know you can improve and be in the top ten.”
Panorama, British Columbia – (2x men’s slalom, 2x women’s giant slalom)
The men took to slalom for back-to-back races at Panorama where Canadians continued to find the podium. Brown finished the first slalom in second-place after coming off two wins in the giant slalom block. Brown lost the first slalom race by just 0.05 seconds.
In the second slalom race, Brown once again finished in second-place, this time 0.91 seconds out with American’s claiming first and third spots.
The women raced two giant slaloms in the final block of races held at Panorama. Mielzynski went on to claim her third victory in a row by taking the win in the first giant slalom. On the second day of racing, Smart returned to the podium, winning both runs. Mielzynski was edged out of first-place, finishing in third.
Every single girl on the Canadian Alpine Development Team, including Smart, Fleckenstein, Nullmeyer and Vilanova, came away from the Panorama series with at least one top-five finish. The development squad had a lot of momentum coming off of the speed series between Lake Louise and Panorama, and they fought to keep it throughout the tech events. They were also able to ski alongside one of their country’s top athletes, Mielzynski. The World Cup veteran was a very positive influence to have for the tech series, said development coach Peter Rybarik.
“She was a great leader for this group, not just her personality, but also her performance. It showed the level that she is at is a little bit higher,” Rybarik said, noting that it was nice for his athletes, who will be spending their season on the Nor-Am circuit, to see what they are working towards.
Rybarik said that he expects his girls to compete at the top level in the Nor-Am circuit, and they showed this past week that they deserve to be there, but if they want to compete on the World Cup, they will have to find “a couple seconds”.
The consistency of the Canadians has put them in position to dominate the Nor-Am standings early on.
Stowe, Vermont (2x men's slalom, 2x men's giant slalom)
Weather was the biggest hurdle in this block of Nor-Am races with athletes battling freezing rain and fog. Phil Brown and 2015 super-G World Championship silver medalist Dustin Cook raced in the giant slalom, finishing in second and third respectively. Brown was beat by U.S. Ski Team athlete Nick Krause by just 0.05 seconds and Cook was 0.26 back from the first-place time.
Taking a break from the World Cup circuit, Brown synced up with Nor-Am Cup circuit to gain confidence.
“I started in Europe doing World Cups in the beginning of the season, and it wasn’t going that well, so then we made the decision to come back to Panorama to try to find some confidence in racing and find the ability to find some freedom in my skiing and ski the way I do in training,” Brown said.
Brown’s second-place result moved him into first-place in the Nor-Am giant slalom leaderboard standings. Brown’s strong performances in the Nor-Am tech races, which includes two first-place finishes and a second-place in giant slalom and three second-place finishes in slalom, puts in the lead in the overall Nor-Am Cup standings with 400 points.
Burke, Vermont (2x women's slalom, 2x men's giant slalom)
The women raced a tech series at Burke, VT where the Canadians continued to find the podium. Smart finished in the first giant slalom in third-place, just 0.47 seconds back from the leader. In the second giant slalom, Nullmeyer won by 0.07 seconds.
Following this tech series, Canadian women remain at the top of the overall leaderboard with Smart leading the pack (452 points). Smart has not finished outside the top seven in any her seven Nor-Am starts this season and has been on the podium in three separate disciplines. Stefanie Fleckenstein sits in second-place overall (422 points) and Nullmeyer is holding down third overall (410 points).
With files from skiracing.com.
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