Fernie’s Emily Brydon has been a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team for 10 seasons, although probably half of that time she has been injured or in rehabilitation. Once considered one of the team’s top prospects, she mulled retirement a few years ago but decided to hang in a little longer with the support of her coaches, teammates and family.
The change in Brydon over the past two seasons has been nothing short of remarkable, as she first found a level of consistency, then found a way to make up the tenths and hundredths of a second she needed to be competitive in every race.
Now, with a gold medal in super G to her credit this past weekend in St. Moritz, Switzerland — the first gold of her career — Brydon now leads the team with three medals this season. She also placed fourth in the downhill the previous day, after being bumped from the podium by 0.03 seconds, and is heading into the last month of the season ranked second in super G and seventh in downhill.
“I am so excited,” said Brydon of her gold medal performance. “I have worked really hard for this and I have been through a lot of adversity. I think all that makes it even sweeter when a dream like this comes true.”
Brydon was ranked 19 th after the top interval, then turned up her intensity and was the top skier on the bottom two-thirds of the course.
“There’s no perfect runs. My top section was not ideal. It was pretty skiing, and I just kind of cruised. So I kicked myself in the butt and was like ‘you don’t win races or even get on the podium with that’ so about a third of the way down I kicked into overdrive and it was great, it was the best feeling.”
She was joined in the top-10 by Kelly VanderBeek, who placed ninth, and in the top-15 by Britt Janyk in 15th.
Elisabeth Goergl and Renate Goetschl of Austria were second and third respectively.
In the downhill the day before, Brydon finished fourth after being bumped by late starts Maria Holaus and Lara Gut. Tina Maze of Slovenia took the gold medal, with Holaus placing second, and Gut third.
The snow and flat light played havoc on the field, and several top names — including Canadians Britt Janyk and Kelly VanderBeek, struggled on the course. VanderBeek placed 28 th and Janyk 31 st .
“If I had to come down in fourth it would have been a good day,” said Brydon. “Fourth is really good. I was the fourth fastest in the world today and I moved up in the World Cup rankings. It’s just hard when you thought you were second.”
While the women’s team was delivering Canada’s ninth medal of the season in Switzerland, the Canadian men were in Val d’Isere for a downhill and super combined. The downhill was cancelled due to a storm, but the super combined event — slalom and downhill runs — went ahead the following day.
American Bode Miller captured the first World Cup globe of the season with his second straight win in a super combined race. It was also the 61 st World Cup medal of his career.
Ivica Kostelic and Natko Zrncic-Dim of Croatia placed second and third, which is another first for ski racing. Paul Stutz was the only Canadian to complete both runs, placing 36 th .