11/17/2013 11:14 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Canadian Mike Janyk places 20th in first World cup event of season

LEVI, Finland - Canada's Mike Janyk got his season off to a solid start Sunday with a 20th-place finish in the opening men's World Cup slalom.

Starting 27th, the 31-year-old from Whistler, B.C., did just enough in a tight first run to advance and then laid down the 17th-fastest second run of the day to move up the leaderboard with a two-run combined time of one minute 48.18 seconds.

"It was okay but I didn't have that sensation on the snow where I could really let it rip. I pushed to the end and I will build from here," said Janyk, a two-time Olympian who was third in slalom in the 2009 world championships.

Veterans Paul Stutz, of Banff, Alta., Julien Cousineau, of Lachute, Que., and Brad Spence, of Calgary, Alta., did not qualify for the second run, while young gun Phil Brown, of Toronto, Ont., did not finish his run.

"As a team we were dead in the water last year and pretty much gone from the scene so it's going to take some re-igniting to get back up there," said Janyk. "Today was step one.

"This is a time where the leadership comes in. Cousi (Cousineau) and I have our goals and once we start getting up there then I think you'll see the young guys starting to get fired up and getting some top 30s as well."

The Canadian men's technical team is under new leadership this season with Massimo (Max) Carca at the helm. Carca coached Giuliano Razzoli to slalom gold at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the Italian says he can see signs of progress.

"We have a new staff and after two races we better understand the situation with this team," said Carca. "We need to keep going and it's time to put the focus on the details now.

"My hope was to have better results today but conditions were not great in the first run and it was difficult for a lot of racers to find a feeling with the snow."

Double overall World Cup skiing champion Marcel Hirscher continued to dominate the slalom, winning the World Cup opener ahead of countryman Mario Matt.

The 24-year-old Austrian skied seamlessly throughout the second run to clock an overall time of 1:45.42, securing his 10th consecutive spot on the podium in the discipline. Two-time world champion Matt climbed from third place after the first run to second, 0.62 seconds behind Hirscher and Norwegian 19-year-old Henrik Kristoffersen clinched his first podium place, finishing third, 0.93 seconds back.

German Felix Neureuther, who was second after the first run, had an acrobatic fall on his second run but continued to ski and ended up 27th.

Hirscher dominated the slalom World Cup last season, won the slalom world title as well as his second overall title. His strong display here suggests he remains in top form ahead of the Olympics in Sochi.

He said he was especially happy to win in Levi, a course that he has struggled on in the past, but tried to play down the huge expectations on him.

"I'm happy right now to be here, to have a podium, to have a victory," he said. "To stand for the 10th time in a row on the podium ... is a really amazing thing but once for sure this row will come to an end, every row comes to an end."

In a first for this year, organizers presented the winners with a live reindeer from the local Lapland region.

To qualify for nomination to Canada's Olympic team, racers need two top-12 results, including at least one from this season. Janyk's best World Cup result last season was a 14th-place finish in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

The next event on the World Cup circuit is in Beaver Creek, Colo. on Nov. 26.