Thomsen leads trio of Canadians to top-20 finishes

Alpine skier Ben Thomsen chats with reporters in Calgary, Alberta, on November 19, 2012. (QMI...

Alpine skier Ben Thomsen chats with reporters in Calgary, Alberta, on November 19, 2012. (QMI Agency/MIKE DREW)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 PM ET

Winter sports roundup:

Ben Thomsen led a trio of Canadians to top-20 finishes in the World Cup downhill in Bormio, Italy .

Thomse, of Invermere, B.C., finished 15th in one minute, 59.87 seconds while Jan Hudec of Calgary and Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Vancouver finished 17th and 18th, respectively, in an extremely tight race. World downhill champion Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was 24th after suffering from a fever in the lead-up to the race.

“It went really well but I made a couple of mistakes that were really costly,” Thomsen said. “Things are going in the right direction. I’m excited to get home and take a break and then see how I do in Kitzbühel (Austria) and Wengen (Switzerland).”

Saturday’s race was one of the tightest in alpine skiing history. Italy’s Dominik Paris and Austria’s Hannes Reichelt tied for the win with a time of 1:58.62 and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was third in 1:58.63.

HARVEY SIXTH IN FIRST LEG

Alex Harvey began the epic seven-race, nine-day Tour de Ski with a sixth-place finish in the men’s skate-ski prologue race Saturday in Oberhof, Germany.

The 24-year-old Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., hammered his way through the slow, yet highly technical, four-kilometre cross-country ski track in a time of eight minutes, 40 seconds for his first top-10 finish of the season.

“Oh yeah I’m happy to be in the top 10. It is a good feeling to be back where I feel I belong,” Harvey said. “It is the same result as last year, but I feel it is better. I felt a lot more relaxed and smooth today whereas last year I was empty and struggled to the finish. That is a good sign for me.”

Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., had a personal best in a sprint event with a 32nd-place finish.

On a course saturated by rain overnight, the skiers had to battle rough conditions which made the climbs extremely difficult noted Babikov.

“It was a pretty good day for (the team),” Babikov said in praising Harvey. “For me, it was a personal best placing.”

Also racing on Saturday were Devon Kershaw of Canmore, who placed 48th, and Len Valjas of Toronto, who finished 52nd.

CANADA WINS OPENER

Canada, the defending champion at the world women's under-18 hockey championship, opened this year's tournament with a 4-1 win over Hungary Saturday in Vierumaki, Finland.

The Canadians got goals from Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Cassidy Carels, Karly Heffernan and Eden Murray. Goalie Jessica Dodds stopped 10 shots for the win.

Tifani Horvath scored for Hungary.

The U.S. opened the tourney with a 7-0 win over Russia. Finland beat Germany 3-2 and Sweden dumped the Czech Republic 3-2.

Canada takes on Finland Sunday. The medal games are set for Jan. 5.

FOUR CANUCKS IN TOP 30

Brittany Phelan's career-best 16th-place finish led a group of four Canadians into the top 30 of the World Cup slalom race in Semmering, Austria, Saturday night.

Erin Mielzynski finished 18th, Marie-Michele Gagnon was 20th and Elli Terwiel was 23rd.

It might be the first time four Canadians have finished in the top 30 in a ladies’ World Cup slalom race.

“We are pretty positive about our future here, starting with the next couple of races,” Canadian head technical coach Jim Pollock said. “We are really happy with having four in the top 30 – we’re pretty impressed with Britt and Elli. Erin and ‘Mitch’ (Gagnon) didn’t do quite as well as they could but our expectations are high and theirs are high, so we are just going to keep working away.”


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