Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Larisa Yurkiw Puts Canada Back on the Map in Women's World Cup Downhill

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Larisa Yurkiw Puts Canada Back on the Map in Women's World Cup Downhill

Article excerpt

Yurkiw on a roll in World Cup downhill

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Larisa Yurkiw's instincts are steering her onto the World Cup downhill podium.

The 27-year-old skier from Owen Sound, Ont., is coming off back-to-back medals.

A silver in Altenmarkt, Austria, and bronze in Val-d'Isere, France, make Yurkiw the first Canadian woman to win multiple World Cup ski medals in a single season since Emily Brydon in 2009-10.

Yurkiw wants to make it three in a row Saturday in Cortina, Italy, where she won silver a year ago for her first career podium.

"I like a little bit of pressure that I can feel is in Cortina," Yurkiw said in an interview. "It's magical to be on the podium. A lot has to go right."

Yurkiw manages her own career and pays for her ski racing outside of the umbrella of Alpine Canada.

When she was cut from the women's ski team prior to the 2013-14 season, Yurkiw found sponsors, hired a coach and achieved the qualifying results she needed to race for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Yurkiw has since been invited to re-join the national team. She's chosen to remain independent because she's had the best results of her career operating as Team Larisa.

She is the only Canadian woman racing World Cup downhills full-time this season. Yurkiw isn't convinced Alpine Canada has a women's speed program that can do better than the environment she's created for herself.

The organization has a stronger women's technical program focused on slalom skiers.

Coming up with roughly $240,000 annually to pay Yurkiw's coach, medical support team, training and travel costs is stressful and time-consuming. Yurkiw said she was 30 per cent short of her budget for the season at December's season-opener in Lake Louise, Alta.

Winning medals helped as sponsors stepped up their contributions. Yurkiw also picked up almost C$40,000 in prize money for her two podium results.

"It has changed the remainder of the season," Yurkiw said. "I wasn't panicking, but I needed the math to work. People need to get paid."

"The sooner I could put that out of my mind, the better. …

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