Sveriges Alpina Nationalarenan, Åre – (updated) – Team Canada ended a string of close brushes with the podium with a dramatic win under the lights on a steep, challenging track that will host the 2019 World Championships. The exciting Nations Team Event, which will be staged for the first time in the 2018 PeyongChang Olympic Winter Games, took centre stage and Team Canada lived up to their growing reputation as tough competitors in dual racing with a solid performance to take the gold medal.
The quartet of athletes selected to represent Canada included Ali Nullmeyer (Georgian Peaks), Stefanie Fleckenstein (Whistler Mt.), Jeffrey Read (Banff Alpine Racers) and Jack Crawford (Whistler Mt.).
Seeded 3rd, based on the Marc Holder Trophy standings (Nation Team standing) from the 2016 championship, Canada faced Poland in the opening round. They moved forward after a 2:2 tie based on time (ties are decided by adding the fastest female and male time from each opposing team) based on the wins of Nullmeyer (Georgian Peaks) and Read (Banff Alpine Racers).
In round two, Canada knocked out the host nation Sweden 3:1 with wins from Nullmeyer, Fleckenstein and Crawford.
Round three Canada won on time differential over Germany after a 2:2 tie, again using times from Nullmeyer and Read. In this round, Read posted the fastest time on blue course for the entire race (17.69). This ensured Canada moved into the Big Final against a powerhouse Austrian Team that has been dominating the 2017 Championship.
In an exciting finale to this fast-paced competition, the Canadian quartet took a quick 2:0 lead with wins by Nullmeyer and Read (who posted the fastest time of the day on the red course of 17.70). Stefanie Fleckenstein (Whistler Mt.) was narrowly beaten, but Jack Crawford posted a resounding win in the final matchup giving gold to Canada with a 3:1 margin to capture the World Junior title.
It was a team effort. All members of the Canadian Team at the World Juniors were on-hand to cheer on the participating athletes. The coaching staff, service and support team where on site after a long day following the ladies giant slalom run earlier in the day.
Each athlete on the team made a significant contribution. Nullmeyer raced first in each round and was the steadiest member of the team winning all of her races. Read was blistering fast with his starts and was fastest on both courses, especially when it counted in the semi-final and Championship Round (Grand Final). Fleckenstein demonstrated solid skiing in and won when it counted against the Swedes. Skiing the anchor leg, Crawford pulled off an incredible reaction in round 2 when his competitor from Sweden made a mistake and veered into Jack’s course – he lept over the athlete averting disaster. And in the final round, Crawford ‘sealed the deal’ by winning the final matchup of the Grand Final.
Canada’s gold medal demonstrates continued strength in this new Olympic event. The Canadian Team took bronze in the 2011 World Juniors and the senior team won silver at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail. At the 2017 Worlds, Canada narrowly fell to the Swiss by .06 and finished 5th.
Team Canada – all athletes, coaches, service and team support.
L-R – Jeffrey Read, Ali Nullmeyer, Stefanie Fleckenstein, Jack Crawford
Earlier today, Laura Pirovano (ITA) took gold in the ladies giant slalom over Katharina Liensberger (silver) and Chiara Mair (bronze) of Austria. Ali Nullmeyer (Georgian Peaks) led Canadians in 20th, followed by Marina Vilanova (Mt. Tremblant) in 24th and Stefanie Fleckenstein (Whistler Mt.) in 40th. Amelia Smart (Team Panorama) was DNF in the second run.