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Two Canucks rediscover winning ways

You’d be hard-pressed to find two Canadian Olympians who finished lastwinter on a bigger roll than freestyle aerialist Steve Omischl andspeedskater Denny Morrison.

You’d be hard-pressed to find two Canadian Olympians who finished last winter on a bigger roll than freestyle aerialist Steve Omischl and speedskater Denny Morrison.

Omischl won three of his last four World Cup events and six of nine to claim his third Golden Globe as the overall aerials champion. Morrison capped a superb campaign by setting a world record and winning the world title in the 1,500 metres.

But both struggled to start this final full campaign before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. They weren’t performing poorly; they just weren’t as sharp as they wanted to be. Little technical problems, undetectable by most, needed to be figured out.

Well, they certainly seemed to solve them on the weekend.

A day after his moguls teammates swept the podium, Omischl landed back on top of it in a World Cup aerials event at Mont-Gabriel in Ste-Adele, Que., to take the overall lead in the standings.

There were some scary moments at the event when Calgary skier Warren Shouldice lost consciousness after a spectacular fall during his final jump. He was unconscious when emergency workers reached him but he waved to the crowd as he was carried away on a stretcher.

Morrison, meanwhile, broke the track record he’d set a day earlier to win his second straight 1,000-metre race at a World Cup in Kolomna, Russia.

Omischl said it’s important athletes like himself and Morrison are patient and persistent in the tougher times.

“If it didn’t take time, people would win every week,” said the 30-year-old from North Bay, Ont. “It just doesn’t happen in any sport, you know. You’ve got to piece it all together for sure ... I just do my job every day and that’s going to put me in the best position.”

Yesterday, that position was first for his 19th career World Cup win. He’d finished fifth and eighth in the first two events of the season and while he’s working hard not to be results-focused, it seemed to be bothering him going into the event.

“It’s a shot in the arm to know that I am back on track,” he said.

Canada’s alpine slalom team achieved a couple of breakthroughs.

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., finished ninth in just her third World Cup giant slalom in Cortina, Italy. She started 43rd, finished 20th in her first run and then vaulted 11 spots in the second. Her two-run total was 1:49.97 in a race swept by the Austrians and won by Kathrin Zettel (2:47.10).

Gagnon was part of the awards ceremony for the top 10 and was standing beside one of her heroes, American Lindsey Vonn.

“These racers have been my idols for the past few years and it’s very exciting to now be at competing their level,” Gagnon said.

On the men’s side, Trevor White of Calgary grabbed the first top-10 of his career with an eighth-place showing in a World Cup slalom in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Michael Janyk of Whistler, B.C., was 10th as Julien Lizeroux of France claimed his first career World Cup win.

John Kucera of Calgary finished sixth in the combined event.

 
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