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Gagnon claims 11th national title at Sport Chek Canadian Championships
World Cup winner Marie-Michèle Gagnon completed a sweep of North American slalom titles with a dominant performance at the Sport Chek Canadian Championships in Whistler, B.C. – winning Tuesday’s race by more than two seconds to claim the 11th national title of her career.
Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que., won the U.S. nationals slalom on the weekend by just one one-hundredth of a second but secured the double with plenty to spare on Tuesday after winning both runs. Gagnon – who is ranked sixth in the world in slalom and had a stellar 2013-14 season, racking up more than 500 World Cup points overall and claiming her first World Cup victory – put on a masterclass in difficult conditions.
“Having a Canadian championship is always a good title. It’s a cool thing, for sure,” said Gagnon, who has national titles in slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super combined. “There was a lot of snow and it made it pretty soft. Challenging conditions today.”
Gagnon has more Canadian titles than any other active racer and despite being only 24, she’s already a veteran, leader and a role medal on a young women’s team. Retired Whistler racer Britt Janyk had 15 Canadian titles, while Nancy Greene – who retired at 24 – had 17.
“It’s good to be here and to show the girls what it takes to be on the World Cup, so they know what World Cup skiing looks like,” said Gagnon, adding that the difference between junior racers and established seniors is not always as great as you might expect. “I met a few girls on the chair and stuff – it’s nice to know they have been following our season.”
Gagnon, who clocked a two-run combined time of one minute, 45.27 seconds, led a 1-2-3 of Canadian World Cup slalom skiers, with Britt Phelan, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., finishing second (1:47.53) and Erin Mielzynski, of Collingwood, Ont., finishing third (1:47.59). Development team racer Laurence St-Germain, of St. Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que. (Club de ski Mt-Sainte-Anne/ Ski Québec Alpin), was the top U21 in sixth (1:50.50), while fellow development team athlete Stephanie Gartner, of Calgary, Alta. (Fernie Alpine Ski Team/B.C. Alpine) was the top U18 in eighth (1:52.90).