The Canadian Alpine Ski Team faces its first World Cup test of the 2003-2004 season at Soelden, Austria on Saturday and Sunday with mens and womens giant slalom races.
Nine racers were given the nod to represent Canada, including four racers from British Columbia.
The mens team will be represented by:
Francois Bourque of New Richmond, Quebec, who is only in his second year with the national team. Bourque, 19, led the Canadian team at the Junior World Championships last season with a gold medal in the super G, and a sixth place finish in the downhill.
Julien Cousineau of Lachute, Quebec. Cousi has been with the national team since 1998, but spent more than three of those years on the sidelines with various injuries. The 22 year old made a strong comeback last season with a 10th place finish in World Cup slalom, a 12 th in the giant slalom, and several Nor-Am Cup podium appearances.
Thomas Grandi of Banff, Alberta is a veteran on the team with more than a decade of World Cup experience. Grandi, 30, is the 2003 national champion in both slalom and giant slalom, and finished consistently in the top-30 on the World Cup circuit last season to rank 16 th overall in slalom and 18 th overall in GS.
Erik Guay of Mont Tremblant, Quebec, rounds out the mens team for this weekend. Although he was injured for much of last winter, his rookie season for the team, the 22 year old made a huge comeback at the World Championships in Switzerland, finishing sixth in both the super G and downhill.
The womens team will be led by Whistlers own Britt Janyk, 23, who repeated as national champion in both the giant slalom and slalom disciplines. Her top World Cup results were a fifth and a sixth in the GS, although she led the field on numerous occasions.
Allison Forsyth of Canmore, Alberta an alumni of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club got off to a slow start last season, but came up big in the World Championships with a bronze medal in the giant slalom.
Emily Brydon of Fernie, 23, came back from two years of knee injuries last season, and made an immediate impact. She was second in the national championship slalom, made four top-20 appearances in the World Cup, and finished seventh in downhill and 10 th in slalom at the World Championships.
Genevieve Simard of Val-Morin, Quebec did not race a full season last year due to injuries, but still managed to qualify for a second run in several World Cup races, and finish fourth in the World Championship super G. At 23, she is now in her third year with the national team after being named the World Cup rookie of the year for the 2001-2002 season.
Gail Kelly of Ste-Anges de Beauce, Quebec, was third in the national championships giant slalom this year, as well as a top-ranked Nor-Am and Europa Cup racer. At 24, she worked hard the last few seasons to make the World Cup squad.
The entire 36-member national team has been training at various locations in Austria for the past month, with only the womens development team returning to Canada prior to the World Cup.
Following the races at Soelden, the national team will return to North America to prepare for the next events in North America. Park City, Utah, will host mens and womens slalom and GS events.
The annual Winterstart races at Lake Louise, Alberta will follow with the first speed events, downhill and super G, of the season.
For more information on the national team, or to follow the Canadian team in Austria this weekend, visit www.canski.org.