The same magic from the team event wasn’t quite there for Mike Janyk on Sunday (Feb. 17), as he was forced to battle through injury to a 14th-place finish in slalom to close out the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Janyk skied two decent runs into the finish stadium at Schladming, Austria, despite aggravating a rib injury on the first run. But having built up some momentum heading into the race, the Whistler skier was hoping for more.
“I felt really good coming into this world championships,” Janyk said in a release. “It would have been a long shot the way my season’s been going (to get a medal) so it’s not a total loss, but I knew I had the skiing in me and right now it’s tough.”
The 30-year-old’s late-season turnaround looked to continue during the team event earlier in the week at Schladming, when he led a young Canadian crew to within .01 seconds of the podium in a tremendous performance.
“When I skied in the team event, I knew I had reached another level, so it’s tough for me to sit with this result,” said Janyk, who won slalom bronze at the 2009 world championships.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher provided a perfect finish for the home crowds on Sunday, taking gold while countryman Mario Matt picked up bronze. Germany’s Felix Neureuther earned the silver.
A head-to-head victory over Neureuther during the team event’s bronze-medal showdown had Janyk fired up and hopeful to compete with the favourites on Sunday. Starting 24th for the first run, Janyk reached the finish in 18th place, but was in obvious discomfort after crossing the line, keeling over and favouring his midsection.
“Today was a bit of a disappointing first run,” he said “I sprained my rib in the team event and it came out again in the first run so that was tough.”
Looking to make another of his trademark second-run charges, Janyk was the fastest skier through the top section of the course but fell off that pace towards the finish. He ended with a two-run, combined time that was 2.78 seconds back of Hirscher’s winning mark.
The 14th-place finish matched Janyk’s best result on the World Cup circuit this season. He’s now placed in the top 15 at the world championships four times in five starts.
Trevor Philp was the only other Canadian to finish on Sunday, placing 35th. B.C.’s Sasha Zaitsoff was one of nearly 40 skiers who skied out in the opening run.
With the men’s slalom being the last race of the world championships, Janyk was Canada’s last hope to earn a podium finish at Schladming. The Canadians failed to earn a medal at a world championships for the first time since 2005, though the team event result was the country’s best-ever at the event.
Marie-Michele Gagnon’s eighth-place finish in women’s giant slalom was the top individual result for the team in Schladming, leaving Alpine Canada brass unsatisfied.
“We’re leaving Schladming disappointed from a bunch of different angles,” said vice-president of sports Paul Kristofic, who was the Canadian men’s team head coach for the previous three world championships. “We had some good energy in the team event and saw some great things. However, on an individual discipline level in both men’s and women’s events, we came up short on our expected performance.”
Though U.S. skier Ted Ligety went off course in the first run on Sunday, he was the undisputed star of this year’s world championships, winning gold in super-G, giant slalom and super combined. American youngster Mikaela Shiffrin — who was racing in the Whistler Cup less than three years ago — won the women’s slalom, and the four victories put the United States atop the medal table at the world championships for the first time.
The World Cup circuit resumes on Saturday (Feb. 23) with downhill races for both men and women. After a tough week in Schladming, the Canadian men’s speed team will look to rebound at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany — site of Erik Guay’s 2011 world championship gold, and a venue where Whistler product Manuel Osborne-Paradis has two seventh-place finishes in his career.