February 20, 2006
Canuck skiers shut out
Fourth for Bourque, Vanderbeek
PAT GRIER -- Sun Media

TURIN, Italy - Canada just missed the medal podium this morning in both the men's giant slalom and the women's super-G as Francois Bourque and Kelly Vanderbeek wound up fourth in their respective events.

Bourque, a 21-year-old from New Richmond, Que., had the best time in the morning run in Sestriere but was unable to hold off Austrian star Benjamin Raich , who skied a superb second run to take the gold. Frenchman Joel Chenal won silver while The Herminator, Herman Maier, won bronze.

Vanderbeek, 23, from Chilliwack, B.C., was in second with just two of the top-30 skiers to go a few kilometres away in San Sicario, but Austrians Michaela Dorfmeister and Alexandra Meissnitzer were able to beat her time, Meissnitzer by just 3/100ths of a second.

Vanderbeek was clocked at one minute, 33.09 seconds, while Dorfeister's 1:32.47 was good for gold. Croatia's Janic Kostelic, at 1:32.74, won silver while Dormeister's 1:33.06 gave her the bronze.

Bourque's time of 2:35.92 put him back of Raich's combined 2:35.00, with Chenal at 2:35.07 and Maier at in 2:35.16.

"After the first run, I feel a little disappointed," Bourque said of his result. "I felt nervous and I made some mistakes in the second run.

"I could get the podium and now I'm fourth. It's life."

While Canadian women have an illustrious past in the Winter Olympics, Canadian men have won only two alpine ski medals in 20 Games. Both Steve Podborski (1980 in Lake Placid) and Edi Podvinsky (1994 in Lillehammer) both won bronze in the men's downhill.

Earlier in these Games, Bourque's teammate Erik Guay also finished fourth - also at the hands of Maier - in the super-G.

"I wish Erik would have finished on the podium and I wish I had finished on the podium," Bourque said. "But it think it's pretty good and I would have been proud to do that for my country.

Bourque admitted to nerves prior to his second run.

"I had a little bit of a stomach ache, like if I would punch you in the stomach, but that's the way it goes," he said.

Bourque is one of the leaders of the Canadian's team new young guard, though his previous best finish in four World Cup seasons was a pair of thirds in giant slalom and super-G.

Thomas Grandi of Canmore, Alta., who was considered Canada's best medal threat in this event, finished 10th in 2:36.88, while Jean-Philippe Roy of Ste-Flavie, Que., who was 10th after the first run, lost an edge and fell rounding a gate in the second.

"Not bad, not great. Disappointing actually," was Grandi's assessment of his result. "I was hoping for a medal today. It was in me, but it just didn't happen."

Bourque has had a busy schedule in these Olympics, skiing in all four disciplines. He was eighth in the super-G on Saturday, 21st in the combined on Feb. 14, and kicked off his Games with a 16th-place finish in the downhill on Feb. 12.

His final event is the slalom on Saturday.

Vanderbeek's result comes as a real surprise as she has never finished better than 20th in a World Cup event, that in the combined in 2003.

In yesterday's women's event, Fernie, B.C.'s Emily Brydon tied for ninth in 1:33.50 while Genevieve Simard of Val-Morin, Que., placed 19th in 1:34.38.

For Maier, the bronze was his second medal of the Games after winning silver in the super-G.

"I started the Olympic Games with flu so I am very happy with these two medal," said Maier, who was asked about his participation Vancouver four years from now.

"I don't know at the moment," he said, adding with a smile. "Maybe I will race for the Summer Olympic Games in the 100 metres."

Raich, meanwhile, was soaking up his win.

"I have big stones rolling off my heart," said Raich, whose previous best Olympic result was a third in the slalom in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. "This was a goal I had long envisioned.

"I'm very proud for my nation."