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Inspired by Erik Guay's historic podium finish the previous day, Christina Lustenberger of Invermere, B.C. overcame difficult race conditions to blitz to third place in a NorAm giant slalom Sunday, with two other Canadians finishing in the top 10.
Americans locked up the top two spots, with Jessica Kelley winning in 2 minutes, 37.51 seconds and Kaylin Richardson finishing runner-up in 2:37.91. Lustenberger, starting in less-than-ideal conditions with bib number 33, vaulted onto the last step of the podium in 2:39.17.
Anna Prchal of Outremont, Que., was sixth, 2.23 off the pace, while Gillian McFetridge was eighth on 2:40.02. Brigitte Acton of Sault-Ste-Marie, Ont., made it four Canadians in the top-15, finishing 14th in 2:40.77.
“We were so pumped about Erik. We couldn't believe it,” Lustenberger said. “It's awesome. It really lifted all of us. We wished we were there. Today we were all really motivated.”
With temperatures loitering around four degrees Celsius, late starters like Lustenberger had to deal with deep ruts and soft snow. In addition, the opening leg was set particularly tough and turny, and was 10 seconds longer than the World Cup giant slalom on the weekend.
“I've rarely seen such a difficult course,” said Hugues Ansermoz, Canada's national group development coach. “It was really turny. There were 10 seconds between the two runs, which is really very much. These are young girls without a lot of experience. The first run was a challenge for the girls. One minute 25 seconds in altitude and at start of the season, it's not easy on the legs.”
With course conditions crumbling on C.B.'s run, Lustenberger's opening effort was particularly strong, earning her 16th place. She then posted the fourth-fastest time her second trip down to secure her podium finish.
“I'm happy. I had a pretty good first run, especially since I was starting 33,” she said. “It was pretty tough with all the ruts and stuff. I had to ski fast to try and move my spot up,” Lustenberger said. “In the second run I started 14th so I had a smooth, clean run. My goal was to ski like I have been in training because I've been going well all summer.”
Lustenberger will race another NorAm giant slalom Monday before heading to Lake Louise where she will be a forerunner for a women's World Cup downhill next weekend.
1. (5) Jessica C. Kelley, USA, 2:37.51; 2. (6) Kaylin L. Richardson, USA, 2:37.91; 3. (33) Christina Lustenberger, Invermere, BC, 2:39.17; 4. (26) Michaela Kirchgasser, AUT, 2:39.29; 5. (15) Libby Ludlow, USA, 2:39.69; 6. (13) Anna Prchal, Outremont, Que., 2:39.74; 7. (30) Annemarie Gerg, GER, 2:39.97; 8. (57) Gillian McFetridge, Ottawa, Ont., 2:40.02; 9. (22) Nicole Gius, ITA, 2:40.37; 10. (56) Monika Bergmann-Schmuderer, GER, 2:40.39.
3. (33) Christina Lustenberger, Invermere, BC, 2:39.17
6. (13) Anna Prchal, Outremont, Que., 2:39.74
8. (57) Gillian McFetridge, Ottawa, Ont., 2:40.02
14. (3) Brigitte Acton, Sault Ste.-Marie, Ont., 2:40.77
18. (2) Sophie Splawinski, Montreal, Que., 2:41.34
DNF (1st run) Maris Lush, Milton, Ont.
DNF (1st run) Anna Goodman, Pointe Claire, Que.
DNF (1st run) Gail Kelly, Ste-Anges de Beauce, Que.
DNF (2nd run) Jennah Durham, Timmins, Ont.
DNF (2nd run) Julie Langevin, Mont Tremblant, Que.
DNQ Lauren Lattimer, Sault Ste-Marie, Ont.