Canada’s Michael Janyk came agonizingly close to his first World Cup podium of the season Sunday after a thrilling second run handed him a fourth-place finish in the slalom at Wengen.
Janyk, of Whistler, B.C., was lying 17th after the first run but a hard-charging performance the second time around made him the man to beat as the final skiers made their way down the course.
Eventually, the 28-year-old was edged out of a podium spot in a race won by Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, who finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 45.28 seconds. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher (1:46.21) was second and Jean-Baptiste Grange (1:46.27), of France, was third. Janyk was fourth, in 1:46.40, after runs of 54.06 and 52.34.
“After my first run I was starting in a tough spot. My goal was getting into the top 10 and everything else was a bonus,” said Janyk. “In the first run I didn’t get the snap that I get when I’m skiing well. Right on the second gate I felt it. Then I knew I was going to be able to put it on the line.
“Last week I was fifth, this week fourth. Just three places to go.”
It was a good day for the men’s team at Wengen, with three skiers placing in the top-20. Brad Spence, of Calgary, Alta., was 13th – his best result of the World Cup season – and Julien Cousineau, of Lachute, Que., finished in 17th spot. Like Janyk, Spence made up time on his second run.
“The results were solid,” said Paul Kristofic, Canada’s head coach. “We are definitely satisfied with (Spence’s result), but there’s potential for more. We are looking to get him in the top 10. With Julien, his strongest suit is hard, firm snow. The conditions didn’t play into his favour.”
Janyk didn’t finish his first two World Cup slalom races of the season and then didn’t qualify for the second run in Zagreb, Croatia, on January 6, a performance and result that lit a fire under the veteran skier.
“I came off that and I was extremely frustrated. That isn’t how I ski – that isn’t how I built my career,” Janyk said of Zagreb. “The two DNFs hurt 10 times less than sucking and missing the second run.”
Janyk bounced back from a tough day in Zagreb with a fifth-place finish in Adelboden, Switzerland, last week. After Sunday’s fourth-place result, a top-three finish is definitely within his reach, said Kristofic.
“Mike is contending for the podium and that’s where he wants to be,” said Kristofic. “On the second run, he took advantage of a decent course and really hammered it. I think he’s had a lot of speed this year but he had bad luck with the finishing.”
After completing his second run Saturday, Janyk got plenty of air time on TV as he watched the remaining skiers come down from his position in the top-three.
“Standing there is certainly an experience,” said Janyk, who is hoping to follow up two strong performances with a podium next week in Kitzbühel, Austria. “The results will come if I can just take what I did in my second run.”
Next up for the men’s team is the World Cup stop in Kitzbühel, which will include downhill, super-G, slalom and super-combined.