Sports » Features

Brydon back on podium, bringing Canada’s tally to eight

Robbie Dixon posts best result yet with national team



The women’s national speed team earned Canada’s eighth World Cup medal of the season last weekend at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy this one coming courtesy of Fernie’s Emily Brydon. It was Brydon’s second medal of 2007-2008, and the first time in Brydon’s 11 years with the team that she has earned two podiums in a season.

The women’s speed team now has five medals this season, four in downhill and one in super G.

In Italy, Brydon placed third behind Lindsay Vonn of the U.S. and Anja Paerson of Italy. Ontario’s Kelly Vanderbeek came closest to bumping Brydon from the podium, placing 0.04 back in fourth place overall. Whistler’s Britt Janyk also came close, 0.16 back of VanderBeek, to give Canada three racers in the top-10.

“I love Cortina,” said Brydon. “Apart from Lake Louise it is by far my favourite stop on the World Cup. It’s a classic and it’s an honour to be on the podium. My whole career I’ve wanted to podium in Lake Louise and I’ve wanted to podium in Cortina, so now I can check one off the list.

“I am honoured to be on the Canadian ski team right now. When I thought of retiring a couple years ago, now it blows my mind.

“The support that the nation is giving us right now, our sponsors, our friends, this is what sport is all about. And it’s exciting to be on a team that is doing so well with such positive energy and great momentum.”

In the super G, Brydon nearly made it two podiums in a row, missing the bronze medal by just 0.01 seconds behind Nicole Hosp of Austria. Maria Holaus of Austria took the gold medal, followed by Julia Mancuso of the U.S. Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. was fifth by another 0.01 seconds, and Janyk was sixth by a gap of another 0.01 seconds. In other words, just 0.03 seconds separated third from sixth.

Brydon was slightly disappointed.

“We know that in this sport every hundredth of a second counts,” said Brydon. “But every so often when you’re reminded of it, like this, it hurts a little.”

Kelly VanderBeek placed 15 th overall.

There was another super G the following day, a makeup event for earlier in the season, and Britt Janyk came closest to the podium with a fifth place finish. The medals went to Maria Riesch of Germany, followed by Elisabeth Goergl and Renate Goetschl of Austria.

While she was disappointed to just miss three podiums in a row, Janyk took solace in how consistently she is skiing.

“I am happy to be in there,” she said. “I’m top six every day this weekend.”

In fact, Janyk has been consistent all season and has not finished out of the top-10 in nine speed events this season.

“Obviously I want to be on the podium but I think consistency is also really important,” she said. “This season I really wanted to be a contender for every day. I know with a good, clean run I can be up there on the podium, and the same goes for Emily and Kelly.”

While the men didn’t manage any podiums in Kitzbuhel, Austria they did manage to get into the top-10 several times in one of alpine skiing’s premier events.

In the super G, Calgary’s John Kucera and Whistler’s Robbie Dixon placed fifth and sixth, both within 0.2 seconds of the podium. It was Dixon’s best result since joining the national speed team this season by 32 positions, and Kucera’s best result in a speed event this season.

According to Alpine Canada, Dixon was also the youngest athlete to finish in the top-40 of Kitzbuhel.

“We all thought it was a matter of time before he had a big breakthrough,” said men’s head coach Paul Kristofic. “He skis very fast in the training, winning training runs. We started him in a bunch of World Cup races this season to get him up to speed on where his race day form needs to be. He obviously figured that one out today with great splits all the way down.”

Two other Canadians finished in the top-20, with Erik Guay in 11 th place and Francois Bourque in 19 th . Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a bronze medalist the week before, struggled a little on the course, but still earned points in 29 th .

The winner of the race was Marcho Buechel of Liechtenstein, followed by Hermann Maier of Austria — once the most dominating skier in the world, but who has never wholly regained his form since a crash on his motorcycle that nearly cost him his leg. Third place went to veteran Didier Cuche of Switzerland.

This being Kitzbuhel, all athletes in the top-30 won a share of the prize money with Buechel getting the top award of 50,000 Euros. Kucera and Dixon won 5,000 and 4,000 Euros respectively.

In the downhill, arguably the biggest of the season without an Olympics or World Championships, Erik Guay was the top Canadian in ninth place, while Kucera was 13 th , and Osborne-Paradis 20 th .

Didier Cuche won the gold medal, followed by Bode Miller of the U.S. and Mario Scheiver of Austria, who tied for second place.

The last event was a combined, with a run on the slalom and downhill courses. Paul Stutz was the top Canadian, placing seventh overall and breaking into the top-10 for the first time in his career. John Kucera was one spot back in eighth.

In the slalom, which was also a standalone event, Whistler’s Mike Janyk was the top Canadian in 15 th . Patrick Biggs was 21 st and Paul Stutz 25 th .

Janyk missed the start of the season with a back injury, but has not finished outside of the top-30 in a World Cup since his return and is improving with every race.