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Injuries adding up for Canadian ski team

Team sets goal of beating last year’s record season

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team is starting the 2007-08 World Cup season with an end-of-season injury list, but is not backing down on its goal of besting last year’s record number of podiums and top-30 finishes.

Kelly VanderBeek of Ontario is the latest skier to join the injury list, after breaking a wrist while training on the Farnham Glacier last week. She will be in a cast for about four weeks, and may miss the start of the women’s speed season at Lake Louise on Dec. 1.

She didn’t crash, but touched her hand down hard enough on a training run to break the bone.

Erik Guay, Canada’s top racer last season, missed the season-opener in Austria last weekend after aggravating a herniated disk in his back. He is expected to return in time for the men’s downhill at Lake Louise on Nov. 24.

Genevieve Simard underwent extensive knee surgery in June, and will miss the entire season as she recuperates and rehabilitates with an eye on the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She had the surgery after receiving encouragement from NHLer Steve Yzerman, who underwent the same complicated procedure in 2002.

Allison Forsyth, who missed all of last season after injuring her knee at the 2006 Winter Games, was sent home from Austria after the injury flared up. She has already dropped the slalom event entirely due to tendonitis in her hips. Her status is uncertain for the coming season.

Whistler’s Mike Janyk is also going to physiotherapy for an injured back, but should ski this winter.

The good news is that this is a relatively unimportant year for the team. Standings do not count for Olympic quota spots or selection, and there are no World Championship titles on the line. However, the team is committed to keeping its quota spots on the World Cup, and is looking to improve on last year’s record results. Also, this winter will see the only World Cup test events held on the 2010 Olympic courses, in February on Whistler Mountain.

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team finished last season with 14 World Cup medals, one world championship medal, and 44 top-10 results. That beat the previous team record of 12 World Cup medals, and 23 top-10 results.

Alpine Canada has not updated the goals it set several years ago in a strategic plan. The goal for this season is to win 14 World Cup medals, including two gold medals, maintain the men’s quota to a minimum of 30 athletes in different disciplines and increase the women’s quota to 28, and finish the season with six athletes in the top-15 rankings. The team is also aiming for two podium results at the World Junior Championships.

In terms of rankings, the team ranked sixth in the Nations Cup in 2006-07, and is looking to move up one spot this year to fifth.

The long-term objective for the team is to win three medals in the 2009 World Championships at Val d’Isere in France, and four to six medals in Whistler in 2010.