The podium in the sights of Valérie Grenier

The podium in Valérie Grenier's sights


On the strength of her first podium and at the same time her first career victory, Valérie Grenier enters the world alpine skiing championship in the best state of mind of her life.

The World Alpine Skiing Championships took off on Monday at the resorts of Courchevel and Méribel in France in ideal conditions. After Monday's combined and Wednesday's super-G, the Franco-Ontarian will take to the start of the giant slalom, an event in which she won gold on January 7 in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and where her greatest hopes lie.  

The giant slalom will be presented on February 16 and the podium is in the sights of the Franco-Ontarian. 

“It's the world championship where I'm most ready,” said Grenier, who is playing his fifth world championship in his career. I believe in my chances of a medal. I try not to think too much about the results because it adds pressure, but I believe in my chances. I'm confident and I'm skiing fast.”

Grenier's victory ended a nearly 50-year drought for Canada in women's giant slalom. Kathy Kreiner was the last to stand on the top step of the podium in 1974 in Pronften, Germany.

Competing with the elite

In addition to her brilliance in Slovenia where she won both sets to halt American Mikaela Shiffrin's five-game winning streak, the Franco-Ontarian has broken into the Top 10 on a regular basis. 

The day after her victory, she took sixth place, still in Slovenia. Grenier would have liked to get a better result, but she was able to console herself by witnessing the 82nd career victory of Shiffrin who joined at the top her compatriot Lindsey Vonn. 

She has since passed her and now takes on all-time recordman Ingemar Stenmark, who has 86 World Cup victories to his name. With 85 victories on the clock, Shiffrin is only one behind the Swede.

Consistency at the start of the season

Fifth place at Semmering in Austria and ninth place at Kronplatz in Italy also marked his first half of the season. 

“ I showed a lot of consistency and that was my goal in start of the season, she said. This consistency has done me good. » This consistency allows him to rank ninth in the cumulative ranking.

Grenier did not have the opportunity to stop often in Courchevel-Méribel. In her only career appearance, she finished ninth in giant slalom last year at a World Cup stage.

“The snow is perfect, the conditions are incredible and it’s really beautiful, said Grenier at the same time as she offered herself a stationary bike session at the end of the combined. It's fun to be in France because we don't come there often. In addition, they speak French. »

Marie-Michèle Gagnon is full of confidence

Valérie Grenier and Marie-Michèle Gagnon broke the ice on Monday at the alpine ski worlds by taking the start of the combined event, which includes the super-G and the slalom.

The two had no waiting for this first event of the worlds. 

Grenier only did slalom training and above all wanted to discover the track in anticipation of the super-G while Gagnon still had in mind a nasty fall in Cortina d'Ampezzo on January 20.

Gagnon finished in 10th place. It was a fifth career top 10 in the world for her who occupied the 18th rank after the super-G and her second in the alpine combined.

Despite her long past as a technician, the veteran of the Canadian team who is taking part in her eighth worlds had no expectations.

“My crash in Cortina affected me mentally and I knew that I did not feel ready to attacking today [Monday], and I was not there to get a medal, mentioned the pride of Lac-Etchemin to Sportcom. It was not realistic. ”

Costly mistake

After a good descent in the super-G, Grenier had more difficulty in the slalom to finish in 14th position overall.

“Because I started with the bib number two, I had to trust myself since I couldn't see the other girls, explained the Mont-Tremblant skier. I did well in my super-G run and that's encouraging for Wednesday's race. » 

“In slalom, I made a big mistake after a good start that caused me to lose my speed,” Grenier continued. I had to go up a door. I had only done slalom training before the worlds, but it was important to take the start of the combined in anticipation of the super-G. »

Good friend of Gagnon, the Italian Federica Brignone won gold in this first event. She was the fastest in the super-G and finished second in the slalom. 

Grenier and Gagnon will be back in action on Wednesday in the super-G. After a serious injury where she suffered multiple leg fractures during the worlds in February 2019 in Are, Sweden during a training run, Grenier only resumed the super-G this year after unsuccessful attempts last year while the fear was always present.

“I have no expectations for the super-G, she indicated. I'm still getting back into it. My confidence has increased and I can do well. I will do my best.