Erik Guay could be the best Canadian skier since the Crazy Canucks challenged the Austrians to downhill world domination a generation ago. And at age 24, he’s still a decade younger than some of the top Europeans of this generation.
After coming away from the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup events with a 17 th in downhill and an 11 th in super-G – a good start for most racers but a disappointing weekend for Guay – the Mont Tremblant native found his groove at Beaver Creek, Colorado in week two.
On Dec. 1, Guay stayed on edge to place second behind Hannes Reichelt in the super G on the difficult Birds of Prey course, shrugging off fog, wind and snow on his way to the finish.
Guay’s time of 1:17.37 was just four one-hundredths of a second back of Reichelt, and just 0.12 seconds faster than Austria’s Matthias Lanzinger.
Guay knew he had a great run, even before he saw his time and rank on the leader board. He came through the finish line pumping his fists and grinning from ear to ear.
"I was pretty certain I’d had a good run and I was only .04 from Hannes, so it was close," he said.
Guay said the conditions were tough, and that he could only see about two gates ahead the whole way down. Wind gusts of 80 km/h were recorded.
"It was so windy up there. It was snowing like crazy and blowing even more," said Guay. "When I went there was a lot of snow and I couldn’t see the other racers but I took advantage of the start number I had and I attacked.
"The visibility was awful, you couldn’t see the little bumps and the ripples. There was a bit of fog and everything was a bit fuzzy."
Guay tried to stay positive, and his strategy was to attack whatever the conditions might be.
"It was super-negative at the start. Everyone was saying ‘I can’t believe it, it’s snowing and it’s windy and the visibility is terrible.’ So I said to myself, ‘okay, if they have an attitude like that, I’ll approach it from the other side, like Mike Weir.’
"Mike Weir prefers to play in the wind because the others are at a disadvantage. I kind of used that to my advantage. I got psyched on it and just went for it and it worked for me."
Guay’s smile got even bigger when his teammate Francois Bourque also shrugged off the conditions, and managed to cross the line in 11 th place. Bourque was on pace to land on the podium with the fastest split time on the top section. He made a small mistake, but held on to post his best result in a speed event this season.