Alpine Canada still shy of Olympic ambitions 

16 athletes qualify for Games with two weeks to go

Alpine Canada Alpin aimed high for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, and with just two weeks (12 World Cup contests) remaining before they have to announce a team it’s likely that the national team will fall a little short.

But then it was a very ambitious goal. Coming into this season, the ACA hoped to qualify 22 athletes for the Olympics, or double the number of skiers who qualified in 2002. So far 16 skiers have met the qualifying standards, which in itself will be Canada’s largest contingent at the Games since 1988. A few athletes are also on the cusp of qualifying, and there is a chance that Canada could qualify 20 athletes by the Feb. 6 deadline.

"Canada will be strongly represented in Italy, the country where we won our first Olympic medal in alpine skiing a half-century ago at the 1956 Games," said ACA president Ken Read. "Several more young racers could still be named to this team if they finish near the top at upcoming World Cups."

The current team includes five veterans – Thomas Grandi, Genevieve Simard, Allison Forsyth, Emily Brydon, and Jean-Philippe Roy – and 11 rookies, including Whistler’s Michael Janyk. The others are Erik Guay, Francois Bourque, Patrick Biggs, John Kucera, Ryan Semple, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Brigitte Acton, Kelly Vanderbeek, Sherry Lawrence and Shona Rubens.

Several of the athletes have qualified in more than one sport, and we have qualified athletes in every discipline except for the women’s slalom. Canada can field up to four athletes per gender in the five alpine skiing disciplines.

The Canadian team has cooled off after winning seven medals in late December and early January, but athletes are still finishing in the top-15. In the past week Michael Janyk and Thomas Grandi led the men’s technical team in the night slalom at Schladming, Austria, finishing 13 th and 14 th respectively. Grandi was eighth in a slalom two days earlier, while Francois Bourque finished ninth in the combined event.

Four Canadian women also cracked the top-20 at a super G in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Emily Brydon, Kelly VanderBeek, Allison Forsyth and Genevieve Simard were 13 th , 14 th , 15 th and 17 th respectively.

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