Canada’s Gagnon injured in training for World Cup downhill in Lake Louise

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — The final training run for the season-opening women’s World Cup downhill was hard on the Canadian ski team.

Marie-Michele Gagnon dislocated her left shoulder in a crash Thursday.

She was just four hundredths of a second back of the fastest time of the day coming into the final turn, where Gagnon fell and flew into the safety netting within sight of the finish line.

She was removed from the mountain on a rescue sled. Gagnon was able to pop her shoulder back into place, according to the team doctor.

The 28-year-old from Lac-Etchemin, Que., is a regular podium contender in slalom and owns a pair of World Cup bronze medals.

Gagnon is intent on improving her downhill this winter in order to increase her medal chances in the super combined event at the Winter Olympics in February.

The best results of her 10-year career on the national team have been a pair of World Cup gold medals in combined. Gagnon was sixth at this year’s world championship.

Gagnon was going to race World Cup downhills Friday and Saturday in Lake Louise, Alta., for the first time in her career, as well as Sunday’s super-G.

But Canadian team coach Manuel Gamper said early indications were it was “not very likely” Gagnon will race in Lake Louise.

Gagnon was almost seven-tenths of a second faster than the entire field at the third interval Thursday and was “charging like crazy,” Gamper said.

Gagnon has a history with her left shoulder. She dislocated it in a fall racing the combined at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Gagnon competed in three more races there and placed ninth in slalom.

She had surgery on her shoulder in 2015.

Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic posted the fastest training time Thursday in one minute 48.14 seconds.

Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. was second in 1:48.29 and Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein finished third in 1:48.68.

Vonn has won 14 downhills and four super-G races in Lake Louise, but was unable to compete on her favourite mountain last year because of a broken arm.

Valerie Grenier of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was 32nd in training.

Grenier is frustrated by the return of pain in her legs that she thought was solved by surgery for compartment syndrome in the spring of 2016.

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is an exercise-induced muscle and nerve condition that causes pain and swelling in the affected muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Grenier, 21, is a rising talent in both technical and speed races.

She won women’s downhill gold and super-G silver at the world junior championships in 2016, as well as a giant slalom bronze in 2015.

Grenier placed 16th in a downhill in Lake Louise a year ago for her best World Cup result.

But a pair of crashes in Europe last season triggered the return of pain in her lower legs “and it all went downhill from there, honestly,” she said.

“I really don’t feel as confident as last year for sure,” Grenier continued. “It’s hard to feel confident in my skiing because my skiing is not that good because I’m in pain. It’s been hard.”

She didn’t want surgery again this year so close to the Winter Olympics. Grenier is managing her discomfort with cortisone shots.

“My shins were a little bit better today,” she said. “Not as bad as the first training, but I’m still getting some pain.

“I don’t like when that happens when I’m skiing because that’s all I can think about. It’s hard to stay focused.”

Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., was 48th in training ahead of Vancouver’s Stefanie Fleckenstein in 49th. Mikaela Tommy of Wakefield, Que., was 53rd.

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