First podium for Marie-Michele Gagnon
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A week after Erin Mielzynski's unexpected triumph at Ofterschwang, in Germany, Quebec’s Marie-Michèle Gagnon reached her main goal this season reaching her first ever World Cup podium in slalom in Are, Sweden where she finished in 3rd place after a thrilling event. ‘Mitch’ Gagnon, was in 5th in Ofterschwang yet she seemed ready to make her move onto the podium in Scandinavia where she fought hard in both runs.
It’s her sixth top-10 finish this season in three disciplines – slalom, giant slalom and Super-combined, which moved-up her in 19th place in the Overall World Cup rankings – and in 10th in the slalom standings. After clocking the 4th best time in the first leg despite a mistake, the Canadian took her chance on the rutty second run attacking hard from top to bottom. This allowed her to beat by 14/100 of a second the leading time of Sweden’s Therese Borssen. Only Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch and first-run-leader Veronika Zuzulova were able to ski faster and moved ahead of her.
“Finally, I have been waiting for this for a long time,” said the 22-year-old afterwards. “It has been a goal for the whole season and I’m so happy it’s finally here. Erin’s win last week was a strong inspiration and motivation for me. She really showed us you can do it from anywhere and there’s no pattern you have to get through to win and you can do it any day. I hope now we can soon be on the same podium together.”
Interestingly enough, Marie-Michèle was more than confident prior the last women race prior the upcoming Finals at Schladming, in Austria. “I had that feeling, ‘It’s going to be Are, my first podium is going to be in Are,’ I always like the snow here, I always like the place,” she also explained afterwards. I was pretty confident in my slalom having finished so close to the podium last week. It feels like I’m getting closer and closer to winning,” she added.
Mielzynski straddled a gate in the first run but she was still pleased with her way of skiing in the upper part of the run. “I'm feeling even better than I did after the win,” said the 21-year-old, who along with Gagnon has already qualified for World Cup finals in slalom in Schladming as she sits in 15th place after the competition at Are.
“I didn't come through the first run today but I know parts of it were fast and it wasn't just a fluky thing the other day, so that feels really good. We are all so happy for Mitch. She deserves a podium and she's worked so hard for this. It was great to see her rejoice in the finish when she knew right away that she would be on the podium.”
The World Cup Finals are held from March 14th - 18th in Schladming, the site of the 2013 FIS World Championships. Eight races in the four alpine specialties and a Team event are scheduled there from Wednesday to Sunday.