By Andrew Mitchell
The Canadian Alpine Ski Team followed up Erik Guay’s two-medals in Garmisch, Germany with another two medals in Italy and Slovenia this past weekend, bringing the team’s total to 12 podium appearances on the season. — a milestone in Alpine Canada’s drive to be among the top alpine nations in 2010. The team also had a goal of two world championship medals this season, but missed that by just a few hundredths of a second in three different races.
Ken Read, a former downhill racer and the current CEO of Alpine Canada, was floored by the results to date.
“The only reason we set the goal of 12 (medals) this year, to match last year’s total, was that Thomas (Grandi) decided not to retire,” he said. “What’s been amazing about this group is that we’ve reached that goal of 12, early, without one podium from Thomas.
“He had five of our 12 a year ago, remember. This year the mix is very different. The young kids on our team, the Hudecs and Bourques and Osborne-Paradis, have come through in a big way, maybe ahead of schedule.
“Two years ago, we originally set a target of six medals and seven for this year.”
Read acknowledged that the team still has a few weak spots. Following the injury and retirement of Melanie Turgeon, and the injuries that have sidelined Allison Forsyth, the women’s team has had a tough time winning medals this season. Kelly VanderBeek won a super G medal at Lake Louise in early December, and last weekend Emily Brydon picked up a bronze in the downhill at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Whistler’s Britt Janyk has three top-four results so far, while Brydon has been consistently in the top-30. Genevieve Simard is also struggling to get back on the podium after winning two medals in the 2005-06 season.
Still, Read acknowledged that there are some things that are out of Alpine Canada’s control. “Injuries and slumps are always factors,” he said, suggesting that Canada needed to broaden its depth on the women’s side. “You always want as many chances as possible to win a medal going into every race.”
Emily Brydon started off Canada’s medal weekend with a modest 14 th in the super combined at Tarvisio, Italy, securing 10 th overall in the World Cup standings with her consistent skiing.
A day later she was on the downhill podium, earning the fourth World Cup medal of her career, as well as her first medal since 2005. Although she has been skiing consistently, the lack of podiums was frustrating for Brydon — she was a rising star with the national team until the first of a series of knee injuries struck in 2004.