Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gagnon Puts Her All-Around Ski Skills to the Test in Pursuit of Olympic Medal

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gagnon Puts Her All-Around Ski Skills to the Test in Pursuit of Olympic Medal

Article excerpt

Gagnon puts all-around ski skills to the test

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LAKE LOUISE, Alta. - Marie-Michele Gagnon has to trust her plan and her talent.

The 28-year-old from Lac-Etchemin, Que., wants to ski fast in two very different races to win a medal in February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Gagnon is a slalom specialist who kept a toe in the speed events of downhill and super giant slalom throughout her career.

A regular podium contender in slalom and proficient enough in speed races, the best results of Gagnon's career have come in alpine combined.

The "Super Combined" is a speed race of either super-G or downhill followed by a slalom the following day.

The fastest aggregate time determines the winner, so the combined is a test of a skier's all-around ability.

Gagnon won World Cup gold medals in 2016 and 2014 and placed sixth at this year's world championship in the combined.

Her slalom credentials established, Gagnon is putting more time and energy into downhill racing this season to improve her chances at an Olympic medal in the combined.

The speed leg of the combined in Pyeongchang will be a downhill.

The switch is a labour of love for Gagnon. She made the Canadian team a decade ago on the strength of her results in super-G before gravitating to slalom and giant slalom.

"It's what I really love to do," Gagnon said. "Super-G I would say comes pretty naturally for me.

"Downhill needs some work. Every day until the Olympics is a training day, even though it is racing and I am going to do my best that I can do. It is ultimately towards Korea and the combined."

Gagnon will race a World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alta., on Friday for the first time in her career. She's competed in super-G at the Alberta resort before with her best result 10th in 2013.

Wednesday's training run was cancelled due to soft course conditions, but another is scheduled for Thursday. …

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