Guay, Mielzynski to lead Canada into next season
Canada Thursday (May 10) set its alpine ski team for the 2013 season with World Champion Eric Guay heading a list of 29 athletes.
The squad consists of 19 men and 10 women and features three new additions and nine racers who have recorded World Cup or world championship podiums, including Guay, Erin Mielzynski, Jan Hudec, Marie-Michèle Gagnon and Ben Thompson.
Guay headlines a strong men’s team that features several big names returning from injury and is hoping to add to an impressive streak of world championship podiums at the 2013 event in Schladming, Austria. Canada has claimed medals in three straight world championship men’s downhill events, including back-to-back golds for John Kucera and Guay in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
Last season Mielzynski became the first Canadian to win a World Cup slalom race since 1971. She and fellow podium newcomer Gagnon are part of a youthful women’s team that is hoping to build on a breakthrough year.
“It’s the start of three very important years for us with world championships, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games and then the 2015 world championships,” said Paul Kristofic, Alpine Canada’s vice-president of sports. “The goal is come into the season with a healthy team, a full complement of podium-potential racers, and to try to defend our streak of world championship podiums. We’re very much looking forward to that challenge.”
Hudec was the top-performing Canadian alpine racer on the World Cup circuit in 2012 is a key piece of a strong men's speed squad that includes Guay, Kucera, downhill sensation Thomsen, returning star and three-time World Cup winner Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon.
Michael Janyk, Julien Cousineau, Brad Spence and Trevor White lead an experienced slalom team, while Jean-Philippe Roy returns as the team’s giant slalom specialist. Overall Nor-Am champion Erik Read is one of several talented youngsters on the men’s squad, which also includes national team newcomers Trevor Philp and Conrad Pridy, of the B.C. Ski Team. Pridy, 23, is the older brother of fellow national team member Morgan Pridy, 21.
“Trevor (Philp) was a named prospect athlete and he showed he’s an amazing talent,” Kristofic said of the 2012 Canadian slalom champion. “We are working with him to balance school (University of Denver) in the U.S. and starting to race in the World Cup. Conrad is a great story of an athlete who fought his way from invitee status to full-time status. For him, building consistency will be the key.”
Philp is looking forward to completing the step up to the national team after making his World Cup debut in Adelboden, Switzerland, in January.
“I’m very excited,” said Philp. “The plan is to come to Calgary in June and start working out. I’m very pleased to be joining the Canadian team.”
On the women’s side, veteran speed racers Kelly VanderBeek and Larisa Yurkiw will continue their comeback from long-term injuries. Newcomer Elli Terwiel,a student at the University of Vermont, made six World Cup starts last season and was crowned the overall ladies’ Nor-Am Cup slalom champion.
“We have two new podium athletes on the women’s side so it’s important to keep the momentum going,” Kristofic said of Mielzynski and Gagnon. “For them, as well as Ben Thomsen on the men’s side, it’s the first time they are going into major events as podium contenders. It’s great timing to have a big event like the world championships this year so they can learn to deal with that kind of pressure before Sochi 2014.”
The 2012-13 FIS World Cup season is due to get underway in Sölden, Austria, at the end of October. The 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships are due to be in held in Schladming from Feb. 4-17, 2013.
Men’s Canadian Alpine Ski Team:
Philip Brown/Toronto, Ont./Craigleith
Dustin Cook/Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que./Mont-Sainte-Marie
Julien Cousineau/Lachute, Que./Mont-Tremblant
Robbie Dixon/Whistler, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club
Erik Guay/Mont-Tremblant, Que./Mont-Tremblant
Jan Hudec/Calgary, Alta./Banff Alpine Racers
Michael Janyk/Whistler, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club
John Kucera/Calgary, Alta./Calgary Alpine Racing Club
Manuel Osborne-Paradis/Vancouver, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club
Trevor Philp/Calgary, Alta./Banff Alpine Racers
Conrad Pridy/Whistler, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club
Morgan Pridy/Whistler, B.C./Whistler Mountain Ski Club
Erik Read/Calgary, Alta./Banff Alpine Racers
Jean-Philippe Roy/Ste-Flavie, Que./Mont-Comi
Brad Spence/Calgary, Alta./NATC/Panorama Ski Club
Ben Thomsen/Invermere, B.C./Windermere Valley Ski Club
Andy Trow/Canmore, Alta./Sunshine Ski Club
Trevor White/Calgary, Alta./NATC/Fortress Alpine Ski Team
Sasha Zaitsoff/Queens Bay, B.C./Red Mountain Racers
Ladies’ Canadian Alpine Ski Team:
Marie-Michèle Gagnon/Lac-Etchemin, Que./Mont-Orignal
Madison Irwin/Toronto, Ont./Craigleith
Madison McLeish/Whistler, B.C./Alberta Ski Academy
Erin Mielzynski/Guelph, Ont./Georgian Peaks
Brittany Phelan/Mont-Tremblant, Que./Mont-Tremblant
Marie-Pier Préfontaine/Saint-Sauveur, Que./Mont Saint-Sauveur
Ève Routhier/Sherbrooke, Que./Mont-Orford
Elli Terwiel/Heffley Creek, B.C./Sun Peaks Alpine Club
Kelly VanderBeek/Kitchener, Ont./Chicopee
Larisa Yurkiw/Owen Sound, Ont./Georgian Peaks
Erik Guay photo by Gepa