March 4, 2012
Canada's Mielzynski wins Alpine World Cup slalom
By Rod Kelly, QMI Agency
"Wow! Today was surreal and incredible. I won a World Cup! ... Dreams really do come true. Thank you everyone for everything." #amazingteammates.
Canadian Erin Mielzynski's tweet from faraway Ofterschwang, Germany summed up succinctly the feelings she had on a miraculous Sunday, a day that proved to be one of the most significant in recent memory for women's alpine skiing in Canada.
And it's easy to understand why the up-and-coming ski sensation from Guelph, Ont., would be so happy this day.
Mielzynski's words of joy came via her Twitter feed not long after a spectacular gold-medal finish -- her first World Cup slalom win -- after to a two-run combined time of one minute, 53.59 seconds on an warm winter day on the hill in Germany.
"The girls are all crying," Team Canada head coach Hugues Ansermoz said.
"It's huge emotion for the whole team ... Erin's first run was incredible and we told her, 'Just go for it.' It's amazing."
While Mielzyynski's World Cup triumph was a first for her, equally noteworthy on this day was some of the other 'firsts' that came about because of her No. 1 placing.
With the win, Mielzynski, a former world waterskiing silver medallist, became the first Canadian woman to win a World Cup slalom race since Betsy Clifford did so in 1971.
It was also the first time a woman from the Great White North had reached the podium in slalom since Judy Crawford's third-place showing in Switzerland in 1973.
Mielzynski also ended a more-than-two-year podium drought for Canadian women competing in any alpine discipline at a World Cup event.
The now-retired Emily Brydon was third in downhill at Lake Louise in December 2009.
And the Canadian success went beyond Mielzyynski's stunning performance as teammate Marie-Michèle Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que., was fifth, a placing that tied her career-best World Cup result.
Mielzynski's previous best World Cup results were two 13th-place finishes.
"This has been my dream for as long as I can remember," Mielzynski, who raced to a 20th-place finish in slalom at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, told reporters following the victory.
"This is more than incredible."
Resi Stiegler of the U.S. finished second, while Marlies Schild of Austria placed third.
It was during last year's world championships when Mielzynski started to show the ski world was she's capable of in slalom.
A 16th-place showing then, combined with six top-30 results this season, and perhaps it shouldn't be such a surprise Mielzynski conquered the world Sunday.
"At the beginning of the year, we had a planning meeting and set some goals. We had put a podium as a goal," Ansermoz said. "It was a longshot, but we thought it was possible."
Indeed, it was.