The third week of November always causes a stir in the Canadian ski business and not because old man winter is finally showing himself. The third week in November is the start of the FIS World Cup Downhill season at Lake Louise, Alta.
This season was no different than many preceding it with the World Cup crew at Lake Louise getting the Downhill and super-G courses ready when most of us out West were still golfing. The organizers and volunteers at Lake Louise are world renowned for their “get it done attitude” and as usual it showed.
With the men racing their first downhill of the year, organizers got three perfect training runs off before race day, which is largely unheard of in ski racing. While the Canadian Men’s Downhill squad showed solid results in the training runs with a third, 10th and 15th place finish, race day proved more of a challenge for the Canadian Cowboys. One bright light for Canada on race day was Jan Hudec who after missing most of the last two seasons with an injury charged to an 11th place finish after starting 43rd. In the end it was Austrian veteran Michael Walchhofer taking the first podium of the year followed in an amazing second and third place tie by Austrian Mario Scheiber and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal sharing times of 1:48.33.
The Sunday super-G at Lake Louise is a whole new monster, as there are no training runs in super-G, and racers only get one hour to inspect the course prior to the race. Swiss racers Tobias Gruenenfelder and Carlo Janka took first and second with Austrian Romed Baumann taking third. In another twist of timing the Canadian team showed they like to stick together. Manuel Osbourne-Paradis, Erik Guay and Robbie Dixon finished 15th, 16th and 17th in times of 1:33.47, 1:33.48 and 1:33.49.
With the Men’s speed events now complete the Women’s World Cup now moves to Lake Louise while the Men’s side heads to Beaver Creek, Col. before heading off to Europe for more races before the Christmas break.
To follow the Canadian Alpine Ski Team or all the FIS World Cup events visit www.fis-ski.com.