December 19, 2015

VAL D'ISERE, France (AP) When Larisa Yurkiw crossed the finish line after finishing third in Saturday's World Cup downhill race for her second career podium, she quickly replaced her race helmet with a warm ski hat.

Nothing unusual in that, except that the she inscribed the word ''AVAILABLE'' in big black letters on it because she's looking to attract new sponsors.

''I added this last night,'' Yurkiw told The Associated Press after the race, letting out a high-pitched laugh.

The 27-year-old Canadian skier, who overcame a serious leg injury in crash six years ago, races for a self-funded team called Team Larisa.

Although she has some sponsors' logos on her ski jacket, she has been working hard to find new ones - even in the days leading up to this weekend's racing in the French resort of Val d'Isere.

''I arrived at Val d'Isere and pounded pavement a little bit here,'' Yurkiw told The AP. ''We try to be as efficient as possible. But that's with a bit of contingency, too. The reality is there are things you can anticipate and can't anticipate.''

Kurkiw's coach draws up the budget but she has to find the money.

''Every single cent. Everything you can think of ... We don't eat caviar,'' she said, adding that this extends to sharing rooms. ''We find efficiencies like cooperating with the Swedish federation, so I room with Kajsa Kling.''

Her third place on Saturday is only the second podium of her career, but both of those have come this year.

''I probably could do a better job at trying to be in people's faces,'' said Yurkiw, who now has seven top-10 finishes. ''But results help everything, for sure.''

Yurkiw is skiing with a lot of confidence and will bid for another podium at the Austrian resort of St. Anton on Jan. 9.

Although self-funding is hard financially - she estimates the budget is around $250,000 per year - Yurkiw finds it hugely rewarding.

''The freedom is awesome. I love to be so engaged and responsible for what I'm doing every day,'' she said. ''No hour's really unaccounted for and I really like the liberty. I like having that power. My coach and I talk a lot about everything and we have open discussions about what to do the next day, the next month.''

She is hopeful that her strong performance on Val d'Isere's notoriously tough and technical Oreiller Killy course on Saturday will attract new interest.

''We'll see. Obviously if I do my job the best I can, it should generate some energy. But it's also tough right now,'' Yurkiw said. ''I saw the other day that Alpine Canada, the Canadian federation, is also fund-raising. So it's not like it's getting easier, you just hope that more and more corporations relate to what I'm doing.''

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