Erik Guay earned his first World Cup podium of the 2016-17 season, finishing third in the super-G in Val Gardena, Italy on Friday.
Tenth out of the start gate, Guay displaced teammate Dustin Cook from the lead, completing the Saslong course in 1:32.06. Three racers later, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde beat Guay’s time by seven one-hundredths (0.07) of a second. Another Norwegian, Olympic super-G champion Kjetil Jansrud, was 15th down the course and ended up with the fastest time, 1:31:93, to finish just 0.13 ahead of Guay.
“It was a great race, really good conditions,” Guay said on a post-race conference call. “It’s always a place that I enjoy coming. I like the snow here and I like skiing it. The track held up well, I had a great start number and I’ve been building my confidence up. I had a good start to the year in Val d’Isere and today I knew I had a great start number and I knew to take advantage of it.”
The alpine World Cup season got off to a weird start when the usual opener for the speed events in Lake Louise was cancelled. That was followed by the cancellation of races in Beaver Creek, delaying Guay’s season debut until the first weekend of December in Val d’Isere where he finished 11th in the super-G and sixth in the downhill. And while he enjoys having friends and family around to watch in Lake Louise, Guay noted that he tends to prefer the European snow.
That’s especially true of Val Gardena, where he has recorded six of his 24 career World Cup podiums in either the super-G or the downhill.
“It’s been good to me over the years,” Guay said of the Saslong course. “I think I had a certain amount of success here early in my career. After that I just sort of felt comfortable every time I returned here. It’s the kind of hill that really suits my style. A lot of sort of changing terrain on the way down, lots of movement, big jumps.”
“I just feel confident every time I come here.”
This was Guay’s first podium finish in a World Cup super-G since 2010, almost six years to the day since he also finished third in Val Gardena.
Also impressive was Cook, who ended up in sixth place. The 2015 world silver medallist in the super-G is back on the World Cup circuit this season after missing all of last year following ACL and MCL tears that required reconstructive knee surgery.
“It’s hugely motivating and reassuring that everything is going well,” Cook told Olympic.ca of his third career World Cup top-10 finish, adding to a pair of super-G podiums that came just after his world championship medal. “It’s just getting that race mentality back, which I think was the biggest thing today. I had a really good approach today, kinda skied almost exactly the way I wanted.”
He also able to give Guay some great advice from the bottom of the hill.
“I radioed up and I’m like ‘Erik, it’s easy. Just hammer down, you have to send it’ was pretty much all I told him. Told him the snow was good and just go for it. And obviously he did and it worked out really well so we’re both pretty friggin’ happy,” Cook laughed.
The racing continues in Val Gardena with the downhill on Saturday.