SÖLDEN, AUT. — Talented all-rounder Marie-Michèle Gagnon will rely on her passion for competition and a new mental approach to racing when she leads a young Canadian team into the season-opening alpine World Cup races in Sölden, Austria, this weekend.


The 24-year-old from Lac-Etchemin, Que., is arguably Canada’s strongest podium threat as the Audi FIS alpine World Cup season gets underway Saturday with a ladies’ giant slalom, followed by the men’s giant slalom on Sunday. Also flying the flag for Canada in Saturday’s ladies’ race will be Marie-Pier Préfontaine, 25, of Saint-Sauveur, Que., and Erin Mielzynski, 23, of Guelph, Ont. On Sunday, young guns Phil Brown, 21, of Toronto, Ont., Erik Read, 22, of Calgary, Alta., Dustin Cook, 24, of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que., and Toronto’s David Donaldson, 27 – who will be