While all the athletes taking part in the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships at Mont-Sainte Anne and Le Massif, Quebec are striving to be the best in the world, there's a lot to be said for being the best in Canada. Championship titles open doors, issue FIS points for World Cup spots, and give up and coming athletes a chance to benchmark themselves against each other and Canada's best.
Most of Canada's World Cup speed athletes missed the downhill races at Le Massif last week to take part in a training camp on the Olympic runs on Whistler, letting national and provincial level racers duke it out for national titles.
In the opening downhill races, Jeffrey Frisch took the win for the second time in three years, followed by Kelby Halbert and Louis-Pierre Helie. Whistler's Conrad Pridy, racing for the B.C. Ski Team, was 10 th , while Philip Matejko from the Whistler Mountain Ski Club placed 24 th . Also for the WMSC, Alexander Binks was 31 st and Benjamin Maclean 38 th .
On the women's side, Shona Rubens picked up her second consecutive title, followed by Emilie Desforges and Victoria Stevens. From the WMSC, Calindy Ramsden was seventh and Alecia Willis 11 th .
The field was a lot deeper for the super G with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team arriving. Whistler's Robbie Dixon took the national title, the first of his career, followed by Erik Guay and Louis-Pierre Helie.
"It was fun, super cold this morning driving over here so the track held up really nice for the super G, and it was a super fast set," said Dixon. "This is my first national title so that feels great. And to be honest my super G has been kind of lagging a little bit so it brings the confidence up again."
Despite the arrival of the big guns, Conrad Pridy actually moved up a few spots, to eighth. Michael Janyk was 17 th , Morgan Pridy 27 th , Benjamin Maclean 37 th , Ian Morrison 38 th and Alexander Binks 42 nd .
Whistler's Britt Janyk cruised to a women's title with almost 1.3 seconds of buffer, followed by Larisa Yurkiw and Marie-Pier Prefontaine. From Whistler, Madison McLeish was 20 th and Calindy Ramsden 36 th .
It was Britt Janyk's 11 th national title.
"It feels good to come out and put into the race what I have been doing in training," she said. "It's a great hill here, it's got a steep pitch, it's got a jump and it's got terrain. It's right up there with a World Cup level super G."
The super G was also part of a super combined event, with a slalom taking place later that day.
Robbie Dixon was solid once again to take the silver medal, while slalom specialist Paul Stutz made up enough time in the second race to take the gold. Julien Cousineau was third, and Michael Janyk - moving up 13 places with the fastest time - was fourth. Morgan Pridy was 18 th .
Marie-Michele Gagnon won the women's super combined title, followed by Larisa Yurkiw and Emilie Desforges. Madison McLeish was 13 th and Calindy Ramsden 27 th .
Mike Janyk went on to win the slalom title, the second title of the day for the Janyk family. Trevor White of Calgary was second, followed by Patrick Biggs. Conrad Pridy was 20 th and Alexander Binks 25 th .
"I haven't won a Canadian Championship in a few years," said Mike Janyk, who turned 27 on the day of the competition. "Any time you can win a race, especially at the Canadian Championships, it's a great day.
"The second run was a lot tougher today. We had spring conditions so going 30 th , it was a challenge."
Shona Rubens won the women's slalom race, followed by Marie-Michele Gagnon and Brigitte Acton. Madison McLeish was 38 th .
The final event was the giant slalom. John Kucera - better known for speed events as the reigning downhill world champion - took the national title, with Jean-Philippe Roy in second place and Warner Nickerson of the U.S. third. Michael Janyk was fifth, Conrad Pridy 17 th and Morgan Pridy 32 nd out of 76 racers.
Kucera took the win by almost half a second, which was quite unexpected.
"I haven't been on my GS skis since the World Cup race in Kranjska Gora, which was a few weeks ago, so in the first run I had a little trouble with timing," he said. "I had a better feel in the second run and had more speed. I felt a little better about it, even though JP (Roy) got me by 0.2 seconds.
"This is my eighth title and I have won everything but slalom so I have to feel good about that."
The women's GS wrapped up the nationals on Tuesday. Genevieve Simard, who spent most of the season recovering from a knee injury in 2007, finished with a strong win. Shona Rubens was second, and Marie-Pier Prefontaine third. Calindy Ramsden was 35 th .