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Janyk closes career with last home race

Whistler's World Cup veteran ditches race suit for last trip down slalom courseBy Eric MacKenzie

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These were the Canadian Championships, but Mike Janyk went full Bavarian to close them out.

In the last race of the Sport Chek Canadian Alpine and Para-alpine Championships, and in the final race of his career, Janyk put on some traditional German garb picked up during his World Cup travels to ski the second run of the men's slalom on Wednesday, March 26.

"This was given to me by the town of Kirchberg, after the 2009 world champs medal," said Janyk, shortly after sharing a hug with mom, Andrée, at the bottom of the Dave Murray National Training Centre course.

The race itself didn't quite go as he'd hoped — an early first-run mistake cost him a chance at a record fifth men's slalom title — but it was a memorable way for the 11-year World Cup veteran to go out. He made a couple stops along the way to the finish to high-five with former coaches and teammates before arriving to a huge ovation at the bottom.

"I was gonna go first run, but I straddled, so it was cool to just finish," he laughed.

Janyk has been Canada's most successful slalom skier of the past decade, and his absence will leave a void on the men's national team.

"Seeing them up there, I think back to when I was that age and the attitude I had," he said. "To see the next generation have that same fire is really cool."

Erik Read was the winner on Wednesday from that next crop of racers on the way up, winning the men's slalom title for the second year in a row. Phil Brown placed second and Chris Steinke finished third, while Brodie Seger was ninth for the top result by a Whistler skier.

Janyk said his last World Cup race was a little more emotional for him than Wednesday's farewell, but that finishing up his racing days at home as he did was "a nice little celebration."

"I'm sure in a few days after things settle, it'll get a little more emotional," he said.

Pridy wins downhill crown

With most of the Canadian Cowboys out of the way, Whistler's Morgan Pridy took full advantage and claimed his first national title in the men's downhill on Saturday, March 22.

The 23-year-old finished in 1:04.01, beating out runner-up Tyler Werry by more than a half-second for the title. Ben Thomsen finished third.

"It's super cool to have a national championship title," said Pridy. "I got a little bit lucky with the conditions... but it all worked out. I'm super happy."

Defending champ and fellow local product Manuel Osborne-Paradis was pegged by most as the favourite going in, particularly with World Cup teammates Erik Guay and Jan Hudec unavailable, but Manny pulled out with a back injury.

"I would have liked to have raced Johnny (Kucera), Manny, Erik and Jan for the title, but that's how it works out and I'm pretty pleased with the result, for sure," said Pridy.

Older brother Conrad Pridy had the next-best local finish, placing eighth. Whistler's Cameron Alexander was the top U18 skier, finishing 17th, while Blake Ramsden and Brodie Seger each had top-20 results.

Thomsen secured the men's super-G win on Monday, March 24, holding off Morgan Pridy by less than two tenths to take the title. Dustin Cook finished third.

Conrad Pridy skied into fifth place, while Riley Seger was the next-best local and the top U18, placing 16th. Brodie Seger was right behind him in 17th, while Whistler skiers Ford Swette and Broderick Thompson also found the top 20.

Fernie skier Tyler Werry won the men's GS title on Tuesday, March 25, in tough, snowy conditions, building up a big first-run lead and hanging on for the victory. Swette earned runner-up honours and Erik Read placed third.

Several Whistler skiers posted top-15 finishes, including first-year FIS racer Jack Crawford, the best U18 racer in 15th place.

GAGNON GREAT AGAIN

World Cup star Marie-Michele Gagnon keeps inching closer to Nancy Greene's record 17 national titles, having claimed her 11th Canadian crown in the women's slalom on Tuesday.

Gagnon was more than two full seconds ahead of World Cup teammate Britt Phelan after two slalom runs, while Erin Mielzynski took third place.

"Having a Canadian championship is always a good title," said Gagnon, who's collected her 11 titles over all disciplines except downhill. "It's a cool thing for sure."

Gagnon was racing just days after she won the U.S. national championship as well.

Nearly half the field skied out in the difficult conditions Tuesday, but Whistler's Rae Swette managed a 10th-place finish and Kelly Steeves was 15th.

Marie-Pier Prefontaine held on to win the women's GS on Wednesday, finishing more than a full second ahead of Gagnon for the victory. Mikaela Tommy grabbed third spot.

Pemberton's Charley Field was the top local finisher, placing 12th, though Swette, Steeves and Stefanie Fleckenstein all cracked the top 20 overall.

HALLAT, BROUSSEAU WIN PARA-SLALOM TITLES

Getting right back to racing a week after their Games in Sochi ended, members of Canada's para-alpine team battled it out for national titles this week as well.

The slalom crowns were decided on Sunday, with both Whistler-based Paralympians in the field reaching the top of the podium. Matt Hallat claimed the men's standing victory, while Caleb Brousseau captured the men's sitting win.

Paralympic flag bearer Josh Dueck took the runner-up spot behind Brousseau and Kurt Oatway finished third.

Hallat, who achieved a career-best Paralympic result when he was sixth in Sochi, set a two-run time that put him seven-tenths ahead of second-place finisher Braydon Luscombe.

"It's an ongoing battle in everything we do," Hallat said of the clash between he and Luscombe. "I managed to just nudge him out today, but it's always a back and forth."

Max Marcoux won the men's visually impaired race, Kim Joines easily took the women's sitting race and Alexandra Starker held off Erin Latimer for the women's standing title.

Starker and Joines were the women's winners again during Tuesday's giant slalom races, and Marcoux also claimed another title in his category, but the two other men's podiums were shaken up. Dueck skied to the men's sitting victory and Kirk Schornstein won the men's standing race.

Hallat and Dueck ran the Redefining Limits camp for up-and-coming racers over two days last week as well, doubling the number of participants over last year and leaving the national team's veterans impressed.

"It was amazing," said Hallat. "We ended up having a big group of athletes, many who were under the age of 22. There's some very good young talent in Canada."

BROWN, PHELAN WIN DUAL SLALOM

Britt Phelan was the only racer to go undefeated during the dual slalom held Saturday afternoon outside the GLC, but said there was no real secret to her success.

"Duals are super fun," said Phelan after winning the women's title before a few hundred fans watching from Skier's Plaza. "You kind of use the ambiance of the crowd to get pumped up. I just tried to go straight and as hard as I could out of the start and try to maintain that the whole way. I just went for it and it worked out."

Eight men and eight women from Alpine Canada's national and development teams were pitted against each other on side-by-side courses in a double-knockout format. Phelan beat out Madison Irwin in the women's final.

Dustin Cook had been undefeated all afternoon to make it to the men's final, but Phil Brown ran the table after a first-round loss, including back-to-back wins over Cook to decide the winner.

"This is a fun way to compete against each other and have some bragging rights," said Brown. "I think I got some feeling about halfway through the competition, and the confidence started going up."

Brown lost to Janyk in the opening round, but later got his revenge by beating the retiring veteran in the semifinals.

A few of the men's para-alpine team members got in on the action, too. Hallat beat out Luscombe on time after the two split their head-to-head meetings, while Oatway beat Dueck twice for the men's sitting win.

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