Tech-turned-speed skier Marie-Michèle Gagnon has reached the World Cup podium for the first time in five years in the women’s super-G on Saturday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
The bronze medal, her fifth-career podium finish, is the first since she won the alpine combined in Soldeu-el Tarter, Andora, on Feb. 28, 2016.
In her 13th season on the World Cup tour, Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que., managed to tame the course in Germany – one of the more demanding tracks on the tour – to finish close to the leaders. When Gagnon crossed the finish line she bumped Olympic champion Sofia Goggia of Italy, off the podium and finishing 0.93 seconds behind Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami, her fourth straight win, and Norweigan Kasja Vickhoff Lie, who won her first career podium.
“The snow conditions allowed for a good result from the back and I could attack the whole course,” Gagnon told Alpine Canada after the race. “I didn’t expect that,” Gagnon yelled in the finish area. I was very surprised, but I had a good feeling all day, I felt confident with my plan.”
Today’s third place finish is the best finish in the speed disciplines for Gagnon, bettering a career-best 10th on Dec. 19 in Val d’Isere, France.
“I’ve committed to this, and it’s starting to work and starting to show success because it did take longer than I thought,” she said.
Gagnon crashed into the safety netting during downhill training in Lake Louise, Alta., in 2017, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee and dislocating her left shoulder. But coming into this season, Gagnon showed a renewed focus and developing confidence in the speed events in which she calls a “game of patience.”
She’s now looking to take confidence from the podium finish in Garmisch into the world alpine championships next month in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
“It’s great to be confident going into world champs … it gives you a 10 per cent edge over the competition,” she said. “I just have to ski the skis.”
– Alpine Canada and CBC contributed to this report.