Slalom race proves difficult for alpine racers

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Canmore’s Erik Read and Trevor Philip weren’t the only ski racers to find themselves challenged by the men’s slalom race in PyeongChang on Feb. 22.

Tough snow conditions and a challenging race course proved too much for more than half the field which didn’t finish the race, including the world’s number one ranked racer Marcel Hirscher, who fell on his first run.

Fighting chattering skis and unfamiliar snow, Read finished his first run 2.09 seconds behind the leader, putting him in 23rd going into the second run, however, an aggressive line to start his second run cost the 26-year-old precious time, bumping him to 29th position to finish the race.

“I was getting bounced around a bit in the first run and really tried to push it a bit harder in the second run because I was coming from behind and fell inside,” said Read, who earned a personal best finishing 11th during the giant slalom race earlier in the week.

“I actually had some fast splits at the bottom, but that’s quite the small consolation considering I went out.”

Snow conditions were the biggest challenge, he said.

“It was different than anything we normally experience … some people handled it well and for others it was just a really strange feeling.”

Trevor Philip also struggled to find his groove, finishing 2.23 seconds behind the leader after the first run, placing him in 25th heading into his second run.

The snow was also a challenge for the two-time Olympian.

“It was just a little bit different than normal” said Philip. “In Europe we have this rock hard ice from the injection or it gets soft and they put salt on it so there’s a couple of variations we ski on over there and this one was something totally different so the skis reacted a little bit strange.”

That being said, the unfamiliar snow conditions also provided a unique opportunity for a lot of racers like Philip, who started fifth out of the gate in his second run.

“On the second run I had a great opportunity starting early with a fresh course … unfortunately it didn’t work out, but you can learn from every race and this is no exception,” said Philip, who lost his balance near the top of the course, sending him wide and missing a gate.

The mistake cost him his second run and the race.

The best Canadian on the day was Phil Brown from Toronto, who finished 22nd with a combined time of 1:41.94, nearly three seconds behind winner Andre Myhrer from Sweden.

Ramon Zenhaeusern from Switzerland took home the silver, while Michael Matt from Austria finished third.

In the Alpine team event, which held its Olympic debut on Feb. 24, the Canadian team was narrowly knocked out of the first round after a 2-2 tie against France after four runs.

Philip was one of two men selected to represent Canada in the team event, however he lost by 0.14 seconds to Alexis Pinturault.

Despite tying, the French team advanced on a time differential of four-100ths of a second because a tiebreaker in the mixed team event is decided by the lower combined time of each team’s fastest man and fastest woman.

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