Snow fell throughout the day Tuesday as the top male skiers in Canada competed for the national downhill title on the Dave Murray course, as organizers bumped up the race to stay ahead of the week’s forecast for up to a metre of white stuff.
After just one training run and on a shortened course Mont Tremblant’s Jeffrey Frisch, a member of the national development team, burned through the course to take the national title.
There’s no question that Frisch is good, he won the overall Nor Am downhill title this year, but he was not expected to beat members of the national team – including Whistler Mountain Ski Club vet and national team racer Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who is coming off a successful World Cup season and knows the hill like the back of his glove.
"I was four seconds (off) in the training run but I always take the first run a bit more conservatively to get the feeling," said Frisch. "I am a racer, not a trainer and I had rockets under my feet. My goal is to be a strong contender in all four disciplines."
The silver medal went to Calgary’s John Kucera, just 0.06 seconds back of Frisch. He was on pace to win, but nearly lost control early on.
"I caught an edge on the top knoll, I was on one leg and almost went into the fence," he said. "I lost some momentum but I still tried to be very aggressive. Of course I will gain experience in Whistler for 2010 but ultimately I am here to win titles."
Jan Hudec of Banff was third.
Osborne Paradis, who led the training run, says he might have been too relaxed.
"I was too round on my turns and didn’t ski as well as I can," he said. "I am really happy for Frisch, I see him joining the World Cup team next year.
"When I come back to the national championships of course I’d like to win, but I also want to give my points to the development athletes."
Other Whistler skiers in the top 15 included Robbie Dixon in sixth and Benjamin Chaddock in 10 th .
The field was a little leaner than expected with Francois Bourque and Stefan Guay staying on the sidelines, coaches orders, after flying in late Monday from the World Cup finals in Sweden.
"It’s disappointing not to race the downhill, but it would have been a bit difficult due to our schedule the last few weeks and the jet lag," Bourque said. "My season has been great so far, I’ve made a big step. (Giant slalom) is really working for me, which is good because GS is the base of all the other disciplines."
Organizers tried to get the women’s downhill off by 3 p.m. but finally decided to postpone it until Wednesday due to fog and precipitation.
Whistler’s Britt Janyk, who has been racing mostly slalom and GS this past year, had the fastest training run time on Monday.