Christmas came early for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team this year, with the team winning four medals last weekend and putting four others in the top-10.
Eric Guay started the weekend right with a silver medal in the super-G in Val Gardena, Italy. It was Guay’s second super G medal in as many weeks, putting him first overall in the rankings.
"I’m fully recovered from my ACL knee injury sustained here in Val Gardena (last year) and now I can focus on being aggressive in the courses. My fitness is at its best, my skiing is strong, and my confidence is top," he said.
First place went to Hans Grugger of Austria, while third went to Ambrossi Hoffman of Switzerland.
Francois Bourque of New Richmond, Quebec also had another good race, finishing 16 th . John Kucera of Calgary and Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus Manuel Osborne-Paradis rounded out the top 30 in 26 th and 30 th respectively.
In the downhill the following day Guay was third, behind Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein and Michael Walchoffer of Austria. Guay was just 0.2 seconds back of the gold medal.
"Doing it once is hard enough. Doing it two days in a row in something incredible. I’m just looking for that number one step," said Guay, who became the first Canadian since Steve Podborski and Ken Read in 1982 to win back-to-back medals in speed events.
Osborne-Paradis also had a solid race, finishing 16 th .
After Val Gardena the men moved on to nearby Alta Badia, Italy for a giant slalom race on Sunday.
Francois Bourque, who has shown he is just as comfortable in technical races as speed events, earned his first World Cup medal in the discipline. He also became only the second Canadian male to step on the podium in that discipline following in the steps of Thomas Grandi who won two gold medals in GS last season.
"I’ve had a strong start to the season and it’s nice to finally step on the podium," said the 21-year-old Bourque.
"Things have been going very well in training but it was a matter of finding my giant slalom gear in a race.
"Alta Badia is one of the toughest courses on the circuit and I had to ski intelligently; knowing where to let it go and where to turn the skis sideways to make the next gate. It’s not the kind of course where you can carve all the way down. You really had to play it safe."
Three other Canadians earned points by finishing in the top-30. Grandi was 14 th , Jean-Philippe Roy 21 st and Julien Cousineau 22 nd .
The gold and silver went to hometown heroes Massimiliano Blardone and Davide Simoncelli of Italy.
While the men were winning medals in Italy, the women’s team was in Val d’Isere for a downhill and super G event.
In the third World Cup downhill of her career Sherry Lawrence of Calgary led the team with an 11 th place finish.
Three other Canadians earned points by finishing in the top-30. Kelly Vanderbeek was 23 rd , Genevieve Simard 26 th and Emily Brydon 27 th .
American skiers Lindsey Kildow and Caroline Lalive finished first and second, while Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria was third.
Frustrated by her recent results, Brydon pushed hard from the start line in Sunday’s super-G and claimed the bronze medal. Austrians Michaela Dorfmeister and Alexandra Meissnitzer took the top two spots.
"It’s an awesome day for Canada. We know we’re good but it’s one thing to know we’re good and another to show the world we’re good," said Brydon, who hails from Fernie.
"I really needed today. It didn’t work in my favour yesterday but it worked in my favour today and that’s what ski racing is all about.
"I sucked up the disappointment yesterday and I went out and wanted to redeem myself… so I charged the course. I took chances and tried to make the most of it."
Three other Canadians finished in the top-16. Vanderbeek was sixth, Simard ninth and Allison Forsyth 16 th .
The Canadian speed teams are done for the year, but will be back in action in early 2006. The technical teams will be in action this weekend. The men will be racing at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia while the women are heading to Spindleruv Mlyn, in the Czech Republic.
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