Skier awaits word on Vancouver

Brigitte Acton returns from injury

By BEN LEESON, QMI Agency

Considering the speed at which she moves down a mountainside, Brigitte Acton may seem ill-suited to the waiting game.

But that’s what the Sault Ste. Marie-born alpine skier must play until Jan. 29, when she’ll hear if she’s been named to Canada’s Olympic team for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

But while an official announcement from the Canadian Olympic Committee is still 10 days away, Acton is cautiously optimistic after skiing in the FIS World Cup finals, which she capped this past weekend in Maribor, Slovenia, finishing 23rd to lead all Canadians.

Clocking 1:46.40, Acton had her sixth World Cup top-30 result of the 2009-10 season.

“So it is going well,” said Acton, 24, who was an Olympian at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

“Now I just have to pace myself and do a few European races, so I don’t get too bored or lose any momentum.”

She made the World Cup finals based on her world ranking, which was 22nd in the slalom. She needed to be in the top 25 to compete.

It’s been a long road back to the world stage for Acton, who missed most of the 2007-08 following a career-threatening injury.

If named to Team Canada, Acton will be the only athlete to represent the Sault in Vancouver.

The Lock City’s other Olympic hopefuls were speed skater Richard MacLennan, who narrowly missed making Team Canada as a junior, and curler Tara George, a member of Krista McCarville’s Thunder Bay rink, which finished third at Olympic trials last month.

“I wish I could tell you for sure,” Acton said. “But right now I don’t know.

“I don’t want to jinx anything.”

She can hardly be blamed for that. This season has been a difficult one on the slopes for the Canadians, who have suffered a rash of injuries.

Some of the country’s best medal hopes, including Anna Goodman of Pointe-Claire, Que., Kelly VanderBeek of Kitchener, Ont., Larisa Yurkiw of Owen Sound, Ont., Francois Bourque of L’Ange-Gardien, Que., Jean-Philippe Roy of Sainte-Flavie, Que., and John Kucera of Calgary, have been knocked out of competition.

While Acton knows the injuries to her teammates have helped her chances of making the Olympic roster, it’s been difficult to see them hurt.

“Injuries are so common in this sport, but this year we’ve really been unlucky with how many we’ve had,” Acton said. “It has been tough, particularly losing a good friend and a teammate in Anna.

“But I have to focus on what I have to do, on all the little things, doing my recoveries, staying focused all the way down.”

And she hopes to see even better results in her upcoming European Cup races.

“I haven’t raced my best, not as well as I know I’m capable of doing,” she said. “I’m kind of internally frustrated. I did make the World Cup finals, which is something I’ve never done, even prior to being injured, and I’m skiing really well, but I haven’t proved it to myself in races yet.”

Acton posted 10th, 11th and 17th-place finishes at the 2006 Games.

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