Whistler’s Britt Janyk followed a long road to get to the top of a World Cup downhill podium in Aspen this past weekend, from the first time she first strapped on skis at the age of two in West Vancouver to her decision last year to switch from the technical team to the speed team. Saturday she became only the fifth Canadian woman to win a World Cup downhill.
After a couple of disappointing seasons, Janyk put up $25,000 of her own money last year to guarantee her spot with the Canadian program. In her first season with the speed team she placed fourth in four super G races, and was refunded most of that money from Alpine Canada.
Now, just two weeks into her second season with the speed team, she has two World Cup podiums to her credit — a bronze medal in Lake Louise and a gold medal in Aspen — and is ranked first in downhill, ninth in super G, and eighth overall on the World Cup tour.
She will wear the red bib as the overall downhill leader this weekend in St. Moritz — something her brother Michael did last year after finishing second in a slalom at Beaver Creek.
“Last year, in Beaver Creek, he put the red bib on for the first time and here I am for the first time in it in Colorado. It’s a lucky spot for the Janyks,” she said.
Aspen provided the perfect course for Janyk. Ruthie’s Run was more technical than most downhills, which fit neatly with Janyk’s experience racing gates, while the conditions were reminiscent of her home hill in Whistler — snowy, soft, and with limited visibility through some sections. The course was also shorter as a result of the snow and organizers were forced to end the race before the last 19 skiers could challenge the course after two skiers crashed and four others pulled out.
“This is a technical course here in Aspen and that actually played right into my abilities,” she said. “At the same time I was nervous to prove that I could do it again coming off of the third place in Lake Louise. This is unbelievable. Now I’ve set the bar even higher.
“The conditions haven’t been ideal and I am just so proud that I kept focus and pulled in off.”
Like so many things for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team these days, Janyk’s performance made history for the national program. The last Canadian woman to win a World Cup downhill race was Kate Pace Lindsay back in 1993. The only other Canadian women with World Cup downhill victories are Laurie Graham, Gerry Sorensen and Nancy Greene.