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Skiing - 02. March 2016.

Canada’s Marie-Michele Gagnon Wins Combined Event, Injured Vonn Takes 13th

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada's Marie-Michele Gagnon wins combined event, injured Vonn takes 13th

SOLDEU-EL TARTER, Andorra — Canada’s Marie-Michele Gagnon captured her second World Cup title of her skiing career Sunday, and credited a recent change in outlook.

The 26-year-old from Lac-Etchemin, Que., won the combined event, navigating a blazing slalom run that moved her up 12 spots after her super G.

The victory comes two weeks after she won bronze in a World Cup slalom.

“There’s been a change in mindset because things were kind of not moving forward, and I was wondering what should I do more. I tried being really focused and watching video all the time and no social life and it took a toll on me,” Gagnon said in a conference call.

Around the end of January, Gagnon was home visiting with family and friends, and said she had an opportunity to step back and realize “I had to have fun in what I’m doing.”

“Because it is quite a difficult thing to do, to be travelling and moving from hotel to hotel for six months out of the year. The little pleasures, even just going out for coffee with the U.S. girls, or playing volleyball, or whatever, all the little things that add up and make it so we can still love what we do even if we don’t have a good result. . . . that change of heart has really helped me.”

Gagnon led Wendy Holdener of Switzerland by 0.20, and Anne-Sophie Barthet of France by 0.61 for her second career win. American star Lindsey Vonn placed 13th while competing with a fractured knee.

Gagnon’s other World Cup victory came in January of 2014, when she ended a 30-year drought for Canadian women in World Cup combined events. Finally standing atop the podium again for “O Canada” was a special moment, she said.

“It was really cool,” Gagnon said. “I was actually singing out loud, and I was singing in a mixture of English and French. It was really, really nice. Too many times we’ve heard the American one (for Vonn and others), and I was thinking ‘This is a nice change.’ The French girl beside me was singing with me, because she knew our anthem. It was pretty funny, and it was a great moment.”

Both the super G and slalom were delayed because of what Gagnon estimated as a half a metre of snow that fell.

Performing well in the slalom, she said, means adapting to tough conditions.

“The slalom is always difficult because there’s more power at the gate, it’s not as slow at the super G, there’s more ruts that form,” Gagnon said. “That’s the game of it and everybody knows that’s what slalom is all about. If you want to win slalom, you’ve got to be good in the ruts.”

Candace Crawford of Toronto, a Canadian team rookie, finished ninth.

Wearing braces on both knees, the American led the competition after the super-G portion but posted only the 23rd time in the slalom run to finish 1.93 seconds behind Gagnon.

Vonn crashed in Saturday’s super-G race after catching a spot of soft snow. She later said she had sustained a hairline fracture.

Vonn’s main rival for the overall title, Lara Gut of Switzerland, straddled a gate in the slalom and failed to score points. Vonn extended her lead to 28 points.

— With files from The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press

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