Whistler’s Britt Janyk became the second Canadian skier to make history at Lake Louise during the last week, earning her very first World Cup medal in the process.
The previous week Jan Hudec became the first Canadian male to win at Lake Louise, and the first Canadian to win a gold medal in downhill on home soil since Rob Boyd in 1989. Janyk was the first Canadian female ever to podium in a speed event at Winterstart, winning a bronze medal.
It was her first career World Cup medal, coming in only the second season since she switched from technical events to speed events. She even had to pay $25,000 of her own money to race with the national team in 2006-07, but earned most of it back by meeting benchmarks set by the team. She had four fourth place finishes last season, including a fourth in the world championships by a matter of a few hundredths of a second.
Needless to say, Janyk was ecstatic with the result.
“It feels so great, I was thinking (the night before the race) how different it is this year compared to last year in terms of my headspace,” she said. “I’m ranked in the top-30 in downhill and super G this year and I just have so much confidence… I knew that I just had to trust how I’ve been skiing and the results will come.
“I knew that I had a good chance to put something down today but I really just wanted to have fun with it and relax. I know this course and I had to leave the start gate and trust it and it was just so great to see third place as I crossed the finish line.”
Janyk was the second-last of the top seeded racers out of the start on Saturday, which means she didn’t have too much time to sit in the hot seat and worry about being bumped.
The conditions were hard and fast, with the women breaking 125 km/h on some sections of the course.
The win went to Lindsey Vonn (formerly Lindsey Kildow) of the U.S., who won the event last year, in 1:48.69. Austria’s Renate Goetschl was second in 1:49.47, and Janyk third in 1:49.96 — just 0.09 seconds ahead of Maria Riesch of Germany.
Two other Canadians cracked the top-30. Emily Brydon of Fernie was 16 th in 1:51.10, and Kelly Vanderbeek of Ontario placed 22 nd in 1:51.34.
The team raced again on Sunday in the super G, with all eyes on Janyk, 27, after her breakout results from last year and the day before.
With gusting winds and a temperature of minus 25 Celsius, the best Janyk could manage was ninth place — enough to donate several thousand dollars of prize money to recreation programs in Africa through Right To Play. The team decided ahead of time to donate any race winnings to the charity, but only athletes in the top-10 get a share of the prize purse. Kelly Vanderbeek also cracked the top-30, finishing in 16 th place.
While Janyk was shooting for the podium, she was happy with the day.
“I think we’re going to come out of this weekend with a really good energy and a lot of confidence,” she said. “It always feels good to have the first races done, so we’ll move on to Aspen now looking to continue with the good results.”
Martina Schild of Switzerland won the SG, followed by Maria Riesch of Germany and Jessica Lindell-Vikarby of Sweden.
While the women’s team was in Lake Louise, the men’s speed team was in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
In the downhill, three Canadians made the top-20 — John Kucera in 13 th , Erik Guay in 15 th and Jan Hudec in 17 th .
Michael Walchhofer of Austria took the gold medal, followed by Steven Nyman of the U.S. and Didier Cuche of Switzerland.
In the giant slalom, two Canadians cracked the top-10 with Kucera placing sixth and Francois Bourque ninth.
It was a close race, and Kucera came within a fraction of a second of the podium.
“I was two tenths from winning the whole thing and just one tenth to the podium,” he said. “I am so pumped about the race. It was really good. Although there was lots of snow the track was awesome.”
It was also challenging, with 12 skiers going off course in the first run. Several other top-tier skiers also failed to qualify for a second run.
Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland took the gold medal, followed by Mario Matt of Austria and Didier Cuche of Switzerland.
In the final super G on Monday, delayed from Saturday because of the conditions, Jan Hudec was the top Canadian in ninth, while Bourque tied for 13 th , and Kucera placed 15 th . Both Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Erik Guay did not finish their runs.
In the Super Combined event, which includes a run of the super G course and GS course, the top Canadian was Paul Stutz in 17 th .
The win went to Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland, followed by Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, and Ondrej Bank of Czech Republic.
This weekend the women’s team is heading to Aspen for downhill, slalom and super G races. The men will head to Austria for a slalom and giant slalom at Bad Kleinkirchheim.