Canada’s Valérie Grenier skied to the top of a World Cup podium for the first time in her career on Saturday at a giant slalom event in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Grenier, from St. Isidore, Ontario, finished in a combined time of two runs of one minute and 55.01 seconds for her first ever World Cup medal.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Grenier in a post-race interview. “It’s a dream come true, I’ve wanted this for so long I’m going to cry, I’m so happy.”
The 26-year-old is the first Canadian winner of a World Cup women’s giant slalom since Kathy Kreiner won in Pronften, Germany, in 1974.
LOOK | Grenier takes 1st World Cup medal with win in Slovenia
Grenier’s best results in her 89 previous World Cup races were fourth in this race last year and fourth in a super-G at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in 2019.
Grenier won three medals — one gold, one silver, and one bronze — at junior worlds between 2015 and 2016. But she broke the tibia and fibula in her lower right leg in 2019.
“I had four breaks and it just took a really long time to heal. So since the injury I focused more on the giant slalom,” she said. “I feel like everything is finally coming together and I’m finally skiing at my best.”
LOOK | Grenier suffers mental block upon return from injury:
Italy’s Marta Bassino (1:55.38) was second and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova (1:55.41) completed the podium.
Three other Canadians failed to advance to the second run. Britt Richardson of Canmore, Alta., was 35th in 59.67 and Sarah Bennett of Stoneham, Que., 54th (1:00.79) while Cassidy Gray of Invermere, BC, failed to finish.
Grenier was able to hold off her challengers as well as any mid-race jitters.
“I’m really proud of myself, honestly,” Grenier said. “I was a little nervous about thinking about it too much, but I felt so good for the second run, I felt so relaxed and excited to go. Everything was normal like it was just another second run.”
LOOK | Grenier talks about winning gold in Slovenia:
Grenier’s victory comes two races after a disqualification in Semmering, Austria, where she was penalized for leaving the starting gate too early.
“I think it almost kindled some fire in me to get revenge, but it’s revenge on myself for messing up that day,” said Grenier.
“I’m so proud of Val,” Karin Harjo, head coach of Canada’s women’s alpine ski team, said in a press release. “It’s an incredible achievement so well deserved for all the hard work she’s put into her career.
“For the team it shows the strong dynamics we have, the girls push each other and they really support each other. Together we work hard, we play hard, we have fun and good things happen.”
The pursuit of Shiffrin has been abandoned
Meanwhile, American skier Mikaela Shiffrin’s pursuit of Lindsey Vonn’s Women’s World Cup wins will last at least another day.
Shiffrin tied for sixth place with France’s Coralie Frasse Sombet in 1:56.34, ending her winning streak after five races.
The American is stuck on a career-high 81 wins – one win off Vonn’s record of 82 wins.
Shiffrin can still match Vonn in another giant slalom scheduled for Sunday at 2:35 a.m. ET on the same course.
“I don’t mind talking about it and I’m not tired of it,” said Shiffrin. “I’m like, ‘It is what it is.’ Everyone will say, ‘You have a chance to win 82 races and tie the record’ every race until I actually do it – when I do.
“So it doesn’t really make a difference. I still want to go out every day and do my very best to ski. And today it was the best I could do. But maybe I can make some improvements for tomorrow.”
Shiffrin was fifth after the opening point, but only had the 18th fastest second point.
“What stands out in my mind was just one turn. I went quite wide on this second run, but I don’t think that turn cost me that much,” said Shiffrin. “So I have to look at the last field and also just think about what I can do to be more aggressive. But the most important thing is also just to get some energy back.”
With seven wins already this season, Shiffrin is also fast approaching Ingemar Stenmark’s overall record – between men and women – of 86 wins.
Vonn retired four years ago when injuries ended her pursuit of Stenmark’s record.