Whistler’s Mike Janyk picked himself up off the slope of the snowy men’s slalom course at Zagreb, Croatia, and buried his face in his hands.
Following a fall in Sunday’s (Jan. 6) World Cup race, the frustration has never been as evident for Janyk, who failed to advance to a second run for the fourth consecutive race to start the season.
And it was once again a struggle for the Canadian men’s team overall, as Julien Cousineau was the only skier to finish the first run but did not qualify for a second.
“I wasn’t disappointed skiing out today but more so in utter disbelief,” Janyk wrote on his blog. “After the race today, after not making one effing second run this season, I was angry.
“Now sitting back in my hotel room, after some decompression … I’m strengthened more than ever in my belief and although it may waver, my faith stands that I will reach my goals.”
Thirty-two skiers of the 77 that started were unable to finish the opening run on Sunday. Marcel Hirscher picked up the win, beating out Sweden’s Andre Myhrer and being joined on the podium by Austrian teammate Mario Matt.
Janyk had reached the lower third of the course and was on a decent pace when his skis slid out from underneath him on a turn. The 30-year-old started 26th but didn’t have the most ideal conditions for his run, as driving snow made for poor visibility and a deteriorating course.
“It was a combination of ruts and light,” said Canadian men’s technical coach Kip Harrington in a release. “Some guys got a little lucky and had good light but after the early 20s (start numbers) it was mostly pretty difficult. There were a lot of ruts and they couldn’t see them.
“We’re going to spend the day analyzing the race. We’ll make a plan and move forward.”
The men unfortunately were unable to build upon the strong showing from the Canadian women on Friday (Jan. 4), when Erin Mielzynski returned to the podium in third spot and Marie-Michele Gagnon and Brittany Phelan also reaching the top 10. It was the first time Canada has ever had three women in the top 10 of a World Cup slalom.
Adding to the frustration for Janyk was that he’s seemed to be skiing well except on World Cup race days throughout the season, though that may be buoying his optimism right now by the same token.
In a tune-up before Zagreb, Janyk skied in the Europa Cup slalom at Chamonix, France, last Thursday (Jan. 3) and finished second against a field that included a handful of World Cup skiers. It was the fifth podium finish of his career on the minor circuit.
Janyk will get a quick chance at redemption — and to start putting points on the board as the season hits the halfway point — on Sunday (Jan. 13) at Adelboden, Switzerland.
Adelboden is a place where Janyk has been solid in the past. He has four top-10 finishes during his career at the venue, including seventh- and fifth-place finishes in his last two starts there.
Men’s World Cup speed races will resume at Wengen, Switzerland, the following weekend.