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Canada's Vanderbeek Oh-So-Close to Medal


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February 21, 2006

SAN SICARIO, Italy (AP by Andrew Dampf)—Kelly Vanderbeek skied the race of her life and missed winning an Olympic medal by three-hundredths of a second. The Canadian can seek solace from her boyfriend David Ford. He finished fourth in kayaking at the 2004 Athens Summer Games.

“It would be nice to have two medals between us, Vanderbeek said after Monday’s super-G race.

Vanderbeek’s previous best career result was sixth in a World Cup super-G in Val d’Isere, France in December.

“I skied really well. Three one-hundredths is killing me. I had a solid run but it took me about half the run to really relax and really trust myself, she said.

Vanderbeek was the 11th skier to race and after laying down the best early run, the TV camera that remains focused on the leader stayed trained on her for another 14 skiers.

Not until Janica Kostelic skied down in the No. 25 bib did someone bump her out. She was still in medal contention when Michaela Dorfmeister blew past everyone in the field as the last of the top 30 skiers to hit the course.

Dorfmeister took the gold medal, Kostelic silver and Alexandra Meissnitzer _ who skied 29th _ took the bronze. Vanderbeek finished 0.03 seconds behind Meissnitzer.

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of whether the hunnies (hundredths) are on your side or not, Vanderbeek said. “Meissi deserves to have a podium. I’m happy for the top three, they’re unbelievable skiers, so good for them.

Six members of Vanderbeek’s family attended the race, standing in the front row of the stands. They went from wild cheering after Vanderbeek’s run to gritting their teeth as the top skiers bumped her off the podium.

The fans still waved a banner proclaiming her “Chicopee’s Best Canadian” _ sure to make the highlights on Canadian TV. There was also a banner filled with signatures from what seemed like every resident from her hometown of Kitchener, Ontario.

Chicopee is the ski club in Kitchener.

“It’s about a 12-second GS course, that’s my home hill, Vanderbeek said.

“My whole family is here. They’ve been unbelievable, added Vanderbeek, sporting a temporary red Canadian maple leaf tattoo on her cheek. “It was nice to do it on this day at the Olympics and really show the world that I can ski.[pagebreak]Vanderbeek gave a hint of her potential by leading the final downhill training session Tuesday, then placed 24th in the downhill race.

“I skied extremely well these Olympics. The downhill raceday I was way too tense, so I really relaxed and felt good today, she said.

Two-time defending overall World Cup champion Anja Paerson sees potential in the 23-year-old Vanderbeek.

“She has one of my old coaches as a trainer. She’s really shown herself a few times this year. She did a really good training run in the downhill so I know she can ski fast, Paerson said.

Vanderbeek should be at her physical peak by the time the next Winter Games roll around in 2010 on home snow in Vancouver.

So should Francois Bourque, the Canadian who placed fourth in the men’s giant slalom earlier Monday.

“I knew at the start gate that Francois Bourque was fourth and there is a part of me that said ‘I don’t want to be fourth, I’m going to give everything I have,’ and I came fourth, Vanderbeek said.

Still, she said the Canadian team isn’t just training for Vancouver.

“We wanted to perform right here and right now, and I feel like I did, she said.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press