Knute Johnsgaard’s first time on skis this season was on a narrow ribbon of snow trucked in to an Italian town.
Livigno, where members of the Canadian World Cup team are currently training, hosted a fun sprint race on its streets.
The town brought in snow that had been stored under sawdust all summer.
Facing a field stacked with world champions and world cup medallists, Johnsgaard skied onto the podium, finishing third in the fun, no-stakes competition.
“Our team wore jean shorts and cotton T-shirts to emphasize that the race was all just fun,” Johnsgaard wrote in an email to the Star this week.
With no space to warm up on the track. Johnsgaard, on skis for the first time since April raced three times on the track, posting times in the qualifiers, semifinals and final.
Since the snow lane was so narrow, only one skier could race at a time, said Johnsgaard.
Instead of a normal sprint, where there is a mass start, skiers wore a timing chip and raced the clock.
“I was really happy to nab third place,” said Johnsgaard.
The third spot on the podium also came with a 300 euro ($450) prize.
Johnsgaard and other members of the Canadian World Cup team are training in Livigno ahead of the snow season.
Johnsgaard, who helped Canada to a historic bronze medal in the men’s relay last season has made Canada’s qualification standards to attend the Olympics in South Korea in 2018. The official team has not yet been named.