Photo: Pentaphoto/Alpine Canada

Canadians On Top

Guay Inches Closer to History
2010 Olympian and reigning world downhill champion Erik Guay captured bronze in Val Gardern, Italy after an exciting downhill run that required the Mont-Tremblant, Que., native to navigate through thick fog.

The third-place finish is Guay’s 18th career World Cup podium result and now puts the 31-year-old only two podium finishes behind downhill legend and 1980 Olympic bronze medallist Steve Podborski, who holds the Canadian record for World Cup podiums with 20.

“I’m pumped that from top to bottom I was attacking and skiing well. I did pretty much everything I had to do,” said Guay, who clocked a time of one minute, 29.06 seconds on the shortened course. “I definitely feel like I was one of the better skiers out there today. I had a little bit tougher conditions but (the late starters) took advantage of their start position well.”

Guay said he understands the significance of passing Podborski on the all-time list.

“I’m really happy with my skiing and I’m extremely optimistic for the rest of the season. Two more podiums and I will (tie) Steve’s record. I don’t spend my nights dwelling on it but to be able to say I’m the best skier in Canadian history would be something special.”

Bobsleigh and Skeleton Continue Successful Weekend
Canada struck gold once again this and less than 24 hours after Kaillie Humphries piloted her bobsled to a first place finish with brakeman Chelsea Valois. This time the first place finish came courtesy of Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden who captured their first gold of the season in La Plagne, France after posting the fastest times in both runs for a combined time of 2:01.18.

“We’ve been close all year, but it is so fun when you finally close the deal,” said Rush after the team’s third-straight podium finish. “It is so hard to start on this track because it is really flat so it exposes the better athletes. Jesse is an unbelievable athlete and he did an incredible job carrying the load today.”

In Skeleton action, Calgary’s Sarah Reid slid to a silver medal on the same track and on the same day. The 25-year-old Reid rocketed down the challenging 1,507-metre La Plagne track in a time of 2:08.71 to finish in a deadlock for second spot with Germany’s Marion Thees.

“I had two really good pushes and two good runs today,” said Reid, who grabbed her third and final Olympic qualifier this year. She will need one more top-six finish next season to punch her ticket to Sochi.

“This is a hard track to relax because it is a really busy track with high pressure corners, but I was able to relax today.”

Maltais Leads Way for Consecutive Gold
Dominique Maltais of Petite-Riviere-St-Francois, Que., won her second straight snowboard cross competition event by narrowly holding off teammate Maëlle Ricker of Squamish, B.C., in the women’s final. Chris Robanske of Calgary took third in the men’s behind Seth Wescott of the U.S. and Alex Pullin of Australia.

“I’m going to have a really good Christmas with these two wins,” said Maltais, the 2012 FIS Crystal Globe winner who also won the season-opener last week in Austria. “It’s a good way to start the season and now I get to spent some time with friends and family the next couple of weeks.”

For Ricker and Robanske, the results were a dramatic improvement from a week earlier in Austria.

“This proves I am among the best in the world,” said Robanske, who was 14th in the season-opening event in Austria. “I’m pretty happy, especially coming off injuries two years in a row.

“This is only my second event back, second World Cup podium. I can’t be complaining about that. But there is room for improvement.”

Kingsbury, Bilodeau Keep Momentum While Dufour-Lapointe Shines in Moguls
Ruka, Finland proved to be a lucky spot for the Canadian freestyle mogul team after they won a total of three medals at the the FIS Freestyle World Cup season opening mogul competition. In the men’s competition, the team was lead by 2012 Crystal Globe winner Mikael Kingsbury who took the first win of the season, while 2010 Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau was right behind him for silver.

“I knew there was a lot of pressure in my dual against Alex, I knew the media would talk quite a bit about this dual for a long time after it. So, I tried to relax and have fun at the top of the course and even though Alex is my teammate I tried to treat him the same way I would any other competitor,” said Kingsbury. “I always seem to go against Canadians, so I have a lot of practice treating them like anybody else when I’m in the gate.”

Canadian Justine Dufour-Lapointe earned a silver medal in the women’s competition after coming off a 2011-12 season that saw her reach the podium eight times.

“Actually, it was pretty cool today because it was the first time that I got the highest technical scores in the turns technique in the qualification round,” said Dufour-Lapoint. “I worked on that all summer, so I have already achieved one goal.”

Halfpipe Skiers Soar to Three Medals
Canadian freestyle halfpipe skiers grabbed three podium finishes – including a victory by Justin Dorey of Vernon, B.C. – to kick off the 2012-13 season. Mike Riddle of Sherwood Park, Alta., finished third in the men’s event behind Dorey and Byron Wells of New Zealand while Rosalind Groenewoud of Calgary was third in the women’s halfpipe.

“This is the most important event for us so far as what the results mean,” said Riddle, the defending world champion. “It’s huge to get a podium (finish) so I’m unbelievably excited. Now I hope to build on it.”

Dorey knew the importance of the weekend with the possibility of qualifying a spot for Sochi 2014.

“I usually go for broke every run,” he said. “Sometimes it works but it’s a gamble. I knew I needed a podium for the Olympic qualifying so I was a little more reserved. That helped me focus.”

For Groenewoud, the defending women’s world champion, the event was a good way to test her fitness at the beginning of the season.

“Training went very well,” said Groenewould. “Now it’s nice to start with a podium. It’s our first qualifying event for the Olympics so it’s a great way to start the whole qualifying season.”

Slopestylists Turksi and Tsubota Go One-Two
Canadian slopestyle athletes added two podium finishes on Sunday after as Kaya Turski and Yuki Tsubota went one-two in the women’s field. Turski followed last year’s perfect season with a win and a score of 87.25. Tsubota, who had been fourth alternate for the event was second at 72.25.

Turski, who won every event she entered last year, said conditions were tough.

“It was really, really windy and gusty. It was really sketchy out there. I’m just glad I made it down the course I just tried to keep it together and I know everyone kind of struggled with the speed.”

“I did what I planned to do on my run, it wasn’t my best run, but I think considering the weather I did really well and I’m pleased with my skiing. It’s a really good way to start the season, especially being an Olympic qualifier and rolling into X Games.”