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Larisa Yurkiw: Canada’s Comeback Kid

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Helmets off to downhill skier Larisa Yurkiw, Canada’s comeback kid, who’s earned her own place on this year’s Canadian Olympic team by funding her own training.

Despite being Canada’s national champion in women’s downhill, Yurkiw, 25, was dropped from the Canadian Alpine Ski Team recently due to injury and poor results on the international downhill scene.

The skier from Owen Sound, Ontario, pulled it together, however, and made her own way to the Olympic qualifiers at considerable cost. Then, earlier this week, something Cinderella-like happened:

Larisa Yurkiw punched her ticket to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games with a career-best sixth-place finish in Saturday’s downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria.

Yurkiw needed two top-12 results to qualify for nomination to Canada’s Olympic team and followed up a seventh-place finish in the season-opening downhill in Lake Louise, Alta., with a storming run in Saturday’s race in Austria.

Starting 25th, Yurkiw – who is still racing as an independent under coach Kurt Mayr – produced a strong run to cross the line in a time of one minute, 48.58 seconds. Yurkiw suffered a catastrophic leg injury in 2009 but returned to competition two years later.

“Larisa skied amazing today. She was super strong. It was solid skiing, top to bottom,” said Hugues Ansermoz, head coach of Canada’s ladies’ team.

“It’s great that she has qualified for Sochi. She was already close to qualifying but she made the Olympic team through the front door without leaving anything to chance. She deserves it and she showed that today.”

Yurkiw has previously had success in Altenmarkt, winning the downhill portion of a combined race – and beating USA superstar Lindsey Vonn in the process – in January 2009. She was also seventh in the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Altenmarkt/Flachau in 2007.

For more info on Canada’s Olympics-bound national team, see www.AlpineCanada.org

Photo of Larisa Yurkiw at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, courtesy of Alpine Canada.

SnowOnline Editor: Lori Knowles