Tiana Gairns was on cloud nine this past weekend as the Prince George ski cross racer achieved a new personal-best on an international stage.
While competing with Canada's national team in Sweden, the 23-year-old claimed fifth place in the first of two competitions to begin the 2021 slate of the current FIS World Cup season.
On Saturday (Jan. 23), Gairns was put in the ninth spot following a qualification time of 1:23.16 on the mountains of Idre Fjäll, located about 470 km northwest of Stockholm.
She finished first in her quarter-final race, which included crossing the line moments ahead of number-one ranked Fanny Smith of Switzerland.
The two then advanced to the semi-finals, but Gairns, unfortunately, came in last of the four racers, relegating her to the small finals.
In carving out the best slopes of her career thus far, Gairns won her final race of the day and finished fifth out of 18 total athletes.
“Idre is interesting since it’s such a long track, with such a long straight section that you don’t want to pass at the beginning,” she said in a release on Saturday from Alpine Canada.
The experience is likely to be of big help for Gairns as Idre Fjäll will be the setting for the 2021 FIS Ski Cross World Championships on Feb. 13.
She even beat out two other Canadian teammates, Courtney Hoffos and Marielle Thompson, in the small finals on Day One.
On Day Two (Jan. 24), however, she settled for 15th in the next set of races on Swedish snow after failing to advance to the semis, earning a total of 61 FIS World Cup points from the weekend and bumping to 20th in the 2020-21 standings.
Gairns was named back to Canada's national ski cross team in June 2020 after a stint of injuries that forced her to rehab for the rest of the 2019-20 season.
She began her year in Switzerland on Dec. 15, then went to France the following week, but was sidelined after hitting her head and needing to recover over the holidays.
Canada's next World Cup races will take Gairns and company to Feldberg, Germany, roughly 340 km west of Munich.