PyeongChang, KOR. (February 24, 2018) – The final alpine event of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games went down today at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre with the inaugural Team Event taking place. The Team Event is a newly added event to the Olympic schedule, the first event added to the Olympics since the super-G was raced in 1988. Canada is no stranger to success in the Team Event, most recently finishing second at the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships.
Team Canada entered a stacked team into the event, including 2015 World Championship medallists: Phil Brown (Toronto, ON), Trevor Philp (Calgary, AB), Erik Read (Calgary, AB), Erin Mielzynski (Collingwood, ON) and Candace Crawford (Toronto, ON). Rounding out the team was slalom ace Laurence St-Germain (Saint-ferréol-les-Neiges, QC).
This newly added event brings incredible energy to the Olympic schedule with nations competing in head-to-head racing in bracket style elimination. The premise is simple – beat the nation you are racing against to move on to the next round. Athletes compete in a course that is under 20 seconds in length, set as a parallel slalom with giant slalom panels. Style and tactics are a huge consideration, and varying methods from each nation were demonstrated.
The team event has 16 nations competing with rankings based upon overall World Cup Nations Cup standings. Canada is ranked 11th in the Nations Cup standings, setting them up to compete in the 1/8 finals against the sixth ranked nation France, who won the team event at the 2017 World Alpine Ski Championships.
In the 1/8 final, Canada sent Brown, Philp, Mielzynski and St-Germain down to compete against the strong French team. Read and Crawford were reserves for the competition.
St-Germain kicked off the heat for Canada, racing against 25yr old Adeline Baud Mugnier. St-Germain had a fantastic start and took off down the course, crossing the line +0.18 ahead of Baud Mugnier. Next up was Brown who was paired against 20yr old Noel Clement. After a solid start, Brown using the double block technique was cruising well but got caught on the inside ski and went off course, losing to Clement. Dual slalom rockstar Mielzynski was next, paired against 28yr old Tessa Worley, and she did not disappoint. Mielzynski had a commanding lead against Worley, crossing the line +0.73 secs ahead for the win. The final duo in the heat was Philp against parallel slalom ace 26yr old Alexis Pinturault. Philp had a solid start and maintained his pace against Pinturault throughout the entire run. At the line, Philp was +0.14 sec behind Pinturault, leaving the heat in a two-two draw. To break the tie, two Canadian runs were added together and two French runs were added together, determining the fastest heat times. Unfortunately, Canada came up on the losing end of the heat, just +0.04 seconds off the French team and were eliminated from the race.
“I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of the work we put in, I’m proud of their skiing,” said Erin Mielzynski after the race. When asked what she loves about the team event, Mielzynski replied, “I love this event and I think it deserves a place here as it’s so spectator friendly. I really love the atmosphere.”
Laurence St-Germain got a taste of the team event hype and won her respective run. When asked about the event, St-Germain reported, “It was so fun and I’m so glad I was able to do it today. I’m glad I got to open the heat as it was more stressful for Trevor when you go last for sure.”
When Philp was asked about the stress of going last, he said, “No it’s fun, it was exciting. I knew he won but didn’t know about the time difference so I had to finish of course but had to push in the end too. It was fun, it was exciting, but wish we moved on though.”
In the 1/8 finals, it was Austria advancing over South Korea, Sweden over Slovenia, Great Britain over United States, Norway over Olympic Athletes from Russia, Italy over Czech Republic, Germany over Slovakia and Switzerland over Hungary.
In the quarter-finals, Austria eliminated Sweden, Norwary eliminated Great Britain, France eliminated Italy and Switzerland eliminated Germany, setting up the semi-final heats.
In the semi-finals, it was Austria winning over Norway and Switzerland moving through past France. This set up the bronze medal heat of Norway vs. France, and the gold medal heat of Austria vs. Switzerland.
In the small final, Norway was down 2-1 and needed to win the fourth run convincingly to take the bronze. It was Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen from Norway who put down an incredible run over Noel Clement, winning by +0.31 and capturing bronze for Norway.
In the big final, Switzerland was up 2-1, putting Austria in the hot seat in the fourth run. Daniel Yule (SUI) rocketed out of the gate, putting major pressure on Austrian Marco Schwarz. With Yule taking a commanding lead, Schwarz risked it all but couldn’t contain his speed, exiting the course and handing the gold to Switzerland. Number one ranked Austria settled for silver.
Full results – team event:
Gold – Switzerland
Silver – Austria
Bronze – Norway
ABOUT ALPINE CANADA
Alpine Canada is the national governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada. With the support of valued corporate partners along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic, world championship and World Cup medallists to stimulate visibility, inspiration and growth in the ski community.