Carruthers cracks top-10 in learning day for Canadian alpine

WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN, NEW YORK – There’s no doubt about the Canadian alpine team – their focus is on the combined and tech events. Yet, there’s something about strapping on long skis and letting them ride that got to the Canucks. 

After a day of delays due to warm weather and rain, the alpine ski races at the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games finally got underway at Whiteface Mountain on Saturday with the men’s and women’s super-G. 

“It’s great to race after yesterday’s delays, and it’s nice to see just a really diverse crew up at the top,” said Canada’s Caeden Carruthers, who skied to a 10th place finish.  “We live with the other teams, so there’s a bit of camaraderie among the Italians, Swiss, Canadians, just everyone, we’re all growing off each other, and it’s a cool atmosphere and a good race.”

Caeden Carruthers (Ben Steiner)

Carruthers, who skis for the University of Alaska Anchorage, led the Canadian group of five men with a time of 59.49, just 1.14 seconds behind Czechia’s Jan Zabystran, who captured the gold medal. 

Whistler, BC’s Dawson Yates cut his bib number in half, vaulting himself from start number 42 and into the top-20, with a time of 1:00.25. 

“It was turny, icy and bumpy. The margin for error was pretty low,” Caruthers said.  “It was not physically taxing, but really technical and hard to be fast on that one.”

Meanwhile, in the women’s race, Claire Timmerman, who skis with the University of Utah, finished 13th, building on a 10th-place finish at Burke Mountain on the Nor-Am Circuit. 

Despite not skiing much super-G this season or throughout her young career, Timmerman got a quick start and kept attacking down through the more technical final slope and into the finish. 

For all, however, there’s a focus on getting used to the conditions before they attack potential podium times in the alpine combined, an event combining slalom and super-G while also gearing up for the G.S., slalom. and the team event, where they have hopes of medalling. 

“I was really excited about this race. I haven’t skied super g much at all this year, so I wasn’t expecting much, but I was really happy with my run,” Timmerman said. “I’m really excited for the GS. I love this hill so much”

Timmerman, of Calgary, finished the race in 13th, while Laval Rouge et Or skier Gabrielle Fafard cracked the top-30 with a 27th place finish.

With the shorter slope and a course set that hadn’t moved in two days, the super-G skied more similar to a GS, yet tested the skier’s abilities to make quicker judgments on longer skis than they’ll have in the GS event.

It began with a fairly free-flowing first section. Yet, if skiers didn’t get speed on the opening few gates, there weren’t many opportunities to recover, with a flat middle section leading over a bump into the final steep slope with GS-length gates. 

The final slope, Draper’s Drop, was the site of the 1980 Olympic slalom won by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. 

“Once I saw the hill, it looked simple enough, and a bit more like a GS,” Yates told 49 Sports after considering skipping the speed events in Lake Placid. “I thought it would be a lot of fun and better than chilling in the hotel today, and it was a lot of fun.”

As Zabystran celebrated his win, Italy’s Luca Taranzano took silver, and Switzerland’s Eric Wyler captured the bronze medal. Canada’s starters rounded out with Aiden Marler in 23rd, Pierre-Elliot Poitras in 22nd, and a 31st-place result from Colin Kress.

In the women’s race, Germany’s Fabiana Dorigo lay down a clean run to win gold, 0.47 seconds ahead of the silver medalist Carmen Nielssen of Norway. Spain’s Celia Abad took bronze.  

While getting underway in alpine competitions and posting results took precedence, getting used to the snow and the flow of the Whiteface slope proved critical for the Canadians. With many hailing from college programs that focus on technical skiing, the super-G, especially a short one, wasn’t where Canada had their focus. 

Taking on Saturday’s course again in Sunday’s combined and adding their slalom strengths, there’s a sense of unifying positivity surrounding the Canadian team, one only elevated by the strong results posted in the super-G.

“The focus now is for the combined. If today worked, it’s going to work again, and they’ve got to make a better run for the next time and go for it on the slalom,” said Canada’s head coach Michel Huot. 

“Today was learning, but I’m very happy.”

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