Davies and Freeman Compete at Louise

Tess Davies didn’t set her sights too high when she found herself standing in the start gate during Wednesday’s training run at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup.

The 20-year-old from Canmore, Alta. – preparing to make her World Cup debut in Friday’s downhill – had a tough first training run on Tuesday when she lost a ski in the tricky Fall Away section and didn’t finish. So her mental checklist for the second training run was short and her goals refreshingly simple.

ski racer

“I’m just so happy to finish,” said the former Raymond James Alberta Ski Team athlete after crossing the line at the end of a solid run. “I wanted to be able to take some confidence into tomorrow instead of feeling nerves because I didn’t do the bottom part of the course. It’s a step in the right direction, that’s for sure.”

Starting 60th out of 61 racers – and 45 places behind USA superstar Lindsey Vonn – Davies clocked a time of one minute, 58.78 seconds, good for 54th on the day. Her teammate Sarah Freeman, of Pincher Creek, Alta., also had a better run Wednesday, finishing 59th with a time of 1:59.50. Both ladies, members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team women’s prospect training group, are set to make their World Cup debuts in Friday’s downhill race.

“That was a lot better, even though I made a couple of good mistakes,” said Freeman of Wednesday’s run. “I was focusing on skiing more so I was less aerodynamic. I skied the top fairly well. I screwed up at Fall Away but I worked all the rollers better. It was a lot more fun than yesterday.”

Freeman, a former B.C. Ski Team member, said she felt some butterflies in her stomach during Wednesday’s run. “I think I have a couple more to get rid of for tomorrow,” she added.

Switzerland’s Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden had the fastest time of the day Wednesday (1:54.37), ahead of Italy’s Daniela Merighetti (1:54.75) and Vonn (1:54.79). World Cup downhill races are set for Friday and Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.

Davies, who was a forerunner during last year’s World Cup races, said Tuesday’s fall and hip slide had left her feeling nervous ahead of Wednesday’s training run.

“It’s definitely different having a number on your bib instead of a letter. But I’m really excited about the experience,” said Davies, who chatted with Canadian Alpine Ski Team veteran Kelly VanderBeek about feeling nervous ahead of her second training run.

“She just said, ‘Tess it doesn’t matter. It’s no different than any other race. You’ll be fine,’ ” said Davies.

With VanderBeek, of Kitchener, Ont., and Larisa Yurkiw, of Owen Sound, Ont., continuing to work their way back to competitive racing following long-term injuries, Freeman and Davies will represent Canada in the World Cup downhill races being held in Lake Louise Friday and Saturday. Emerging World Cup star Marie-Michèle Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que., and youngster Madison McLeish, of Whistler, B.C. – both Canadian Alpine Ski Team members – are expected to compete in Sunday’s super-G. Women’s prospect training group members Freeman, Davies, Julia Roth, of Waterloo, Ont., and Sarah Elliot, of Oyama, B.C., are also expected to compete in the super-G.

“That was the day I was hoping for yesterday,” said Canada’s women’s head coach Hugues Ansermoz of Wednesday’s training run. “Now it’s just a question of moving up the rankings.”