After tweaking his back in training over the summer, Whistler’s Mike Janyk has spent more time on the physiotherapy table than on skis this season.
The effort has paid off, and he traveled with the national team to Europe to race in a Europa Cup this weekend before heading to the World Cup in Alta Badia, Italy.
“That will be my first test, then it’s all uphill from there,” he said.
He was the first Janyk to reach the World Cup podium, earning a silver medal in Beaver Creek last year. That performance motivated his sister Britt to try even harder, with the result that she now has two medals: a bronze and a gold. Now Mike’s goal is to earn a gold medal of his own.
But while the sibling rivalry provides a little extra incentive for the Janyks, nobody was happier than Mike to see his sister on the top of the podium.
“I’m so happy for her,” he said. “It is truly remarkable what she has done. Everyone talks about how she had to pay her way on the team to get to where she is today, and it’s a great story for sure, but even more remarkable is what she went through the two years prior to that.”
Janyk was one of the top giant slalom skiers in Canada and steadily improving in the world rankings in both GS and slalom when she started to sustain a few injuries and fell into a slump. There were some coaching issues as well that affected the whole women’s technical program.
“She went from winning World Cup runs to not being able to make the top-30 in Europa Cups,” said Mike, who e-mailed from training in Europe. “The mental hardships she went through to get to where she is today would have crushed 99 per cent of all other athletes in her position. What made it so tough is that there was no real problem with her physically, she was just slow and that can eat away at you more than you can imagine.
“Her story is not over but if it ended today it would belong up there with all the other great sport stories. Up there with Hermann Maier coming back after a broken leg (that was nearly amputated), or others like it.
“As an athlete I have all the respect in the world for her and what she had to go through. I have no doubt that she will continue her success, and now all I have to do is keep up with her. Congratulations Britt!”