Alpine Canada: Young Guns Turn The Heads Of The International Ski Community

This article was originally published on the Alpine Canada website.

The 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships held in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado will go down in the history books for the Canadian Ski team and the ski racing community around the globe.

For two exciting weeks, the world’s best alpine ski racers competed in front of hundreds of thousands of fans, all the while trying to claim the coveted World Championship titles.

Canadian fans and ski racing enthusiasts not only witnessed exceptional performances from our national team athletes, but also proudly saw our athletes debunk any doubts that Canada is not a competitive nation on the World Cup circuit.

Canadian athletes fought hard during every run, searching for every hundredth of a second they could possibly find.   Their motivation was a pure desire to achieve the success they have dreamed for years, maybe decades. It was never a question of ‘if’ but when they would taste success. “Canada received very powerful international recognition,” explained Paul Kristofic, Vice President of Sports at Alpine Canada Alpin.  “We turned heads, raised a lot of eyebrows and received countless handshakes from a crowd that isn’t easily impressed”.

The World Championships for team Canada was highlighted by two thrilling Silver medal performances, which took the world by surprise. The first medal claimed was by Dustin Cook (Mont Ste-Marie, QC) in the men’s Super-G, adding to Canada’s previous World Championship podium finishes. Then a young and feisty team of Canadian athletes rose to the challenge and dominated the Team Event knocking out top ranked and performing countries to claim Canada’s first ever Silver in the Team Event.

 “Through out this season our athletes have been quietly making a move on the World Cup circuit. It’s a long journey and it’s nice to see breakthrough performances at the World Championships. These results speak to their character and bode well for our future within the sport. We caught the attention of the ski world and the next wave of Canadian talent is here and ready to compete.”beamed Kristofic.

The World Championship momentum began with a thrilling performance from the immensely talented rookie speed skier - Valerie Grenier (Mont-Tremblant, QC), cracking the top 20 with a 19th place finish in Super-G.  For Grenier, her performance in both the Super-G and Downhill demonstrated that at a ripe 18 years of age, she is an upcoming podium contender and one to watch at the World Jr. Championships in Hafjell, Norway in March.

Then Cook shocked the World (but not himself) creating a new star on the Canadian Alpine Team.

“It is unbelievable. When I crossed the line and saw 2nd, I lost my mind,” Cook shared.  With minimal big race experience, he skied exceptionally well, took maximum risks and handled the pressure like a pro, earning his first podium result ever, joining him to the elite ‘Canadian Cowboys’ club.

The second week of competition was kicked off with the Team Event. The 10th ranked Canadian team was determined for redemption after just missing out on the bronze in the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Team Event. 

Phil Brown (Toronto, ON) and Erin Mielzynski (Collingwood, ON) took on a leadership role within the team, drawing upon their experience from 2013. Their confidence and focus rallied the team, setting the tone for a podium result. Trevor Philp (Calgary, AB) was a true anchor of the team, skiing exceptionally well and keeping his times in touch with the biggest of names on the World Cup circuit. Candace Crawford (Collingwood, ON) exemplified true grit and determination, after she crashed hard just two gates before the finish in her first heat, dusting herself off and continuing on - demonstrating a true reflection of our athlete’s desire to reach the podium.

Team Canada’s 2 reserve athletes - Erik Read (Calgary, AB) and Marie-Pier Préfontaine (St-Sauveur, QC) – were both in the start and ready to go if called upon.  They went through all the preparation steps, took a lot away from this experience and were able to celebrate the Silver medal with their teammates.

A truly motivated and inspired Canadian technical team came out of the Team Event producing personal best results. In both the men’s and ladies Giant Slalom races, Canada had 4 athletes in the top-20, which was an exceptional result.  The ladies Slalom also delivered fantastic results, seeing Erin Mielzynski (Collignwood, ON) and Marie-Michele Gagnon (Lac-Etchemin, QC) finish in 6th and 10th respectively. 

“Canada’s results at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships demonstrates that Canada is a world leading ski nation, capable of podium results in every race” stated Mark Rubinstein President and CEO of Alpine Canada Alpin. “Our veteran athletes were joined by the next generation of Canadian alpine ski stars, to take on the World and we proved to be competition.  We congratulate our team on their dedication and spirit.”