On the World Cup tour’s biggest stage, the Canadian men’s alpine team delivered some of their best outings of the season at Kitzbühel, Austria.
Erik Guay secured the 19th podium finish of his career by taking second in the Hahnenkamm downhill on Saturday (Jan. 26), while Whistler Mountain Ski Club product Manuel Osborne-Paradis finished 10th for his second top-10 of the year.
And on Sunday (Jan. 27), Whistler’s Mike Janyk continued his rebound from a tough start by finishing 14th in slalom, his best result this winter.
Guay became the first Canadian to hit the podium at Kitzbühel since Whistler’s Rob Boyd finished third in 1991 on the famously difficult Streif course. The 31-year-old also moved within one of Steve Podborski’s all-time Canadian record of 20 World Cup top-threes.
“If there’s ever a place you want to podium, it’s Kitzbühel. It’s definitely the Super Bowl of the World Cup,” said Guay, who finished 13 hundredths of a second behind Italy’s Dominik Paris. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was third.
It was fitting that Guay would chase down Podborski’s mark on the Hahnenkamm, as it was there that Podborski led a dominant run by the Canadians in the early 1980s by winning twice.
“This is what we needed to do to start comparing ourselves to the Crazy Canucks,” Osborne-Paradis said of Guay’s finish. “Our goal is to be one of the best teams ever (from) Canada, but we still have a long way to go.”
Wearing bib No. 40, Manny notched the best finish of his career at Kitzbühel on Saturday by skiing into the top 10, his previous high being 20th. Ben Thomsen finished 17th and Canadian teammate Jan Hudec was 18th.
“I lost a lot of time in the middle — there were some massive bumps starting from the back,” said Osborne-Paradis. “But at least now I’m going back into the top-30 (starters).”
All four Canadians were also in the points on Friday (Jan. 25) in the super-G, led by Guay’s fifth-place finish. Hudec was 15th and Osborne-Paradis finished 22nd. Manny was happy with his finish considering he was the 48th to start.
“It wasn’t a great run; it was a solid run of skiing,” he said. “Once I get back into the top 30 that will hopefully equate to a top-10 result.”
Thomsen finished 28th and John Kucera placed 34th.
Janyk continues climb
Janyk’s season-best finish on Sunday was his second-straight result in the points after failing to reach a second run in the winter’s first five slaloms.
“I’m happy. It was like the old Mike on the second run,” he said. “I’ve been doing it in training, but needed to do it on race day. I was super happy to make the next step. Top 15 is where I set my goal for today.”
Following a frustrating first half to the season, the 30-year-old’s surprised and elated reaction to his first-run time was a refreshing sight. Janyk finished the opening run in 16th and moved up two spots by attacking on a solid second run.
“First run was a battle,” he said. “I thought I was going to be way out, but I was happy to see how close I was.
“In the second run I really felt like I was ripping.”
Marcel Hirscher won again for the host nation and maintained his overall lead over super-G winner Aksel Lund Svindal. Germany’s Felix Neureuther and Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic were also on the podium. No other Canadians advanced to the second run.
Janyk also finished 17th in the traditional Westendorf night slalom last Thursday (Jan. 24), a FIS race featuring a World Cup-calibre field in which Janyk has multiple podium finishes from past years. Canadian head coach Pete Bosinger likes what he’s seeing from Janyk ahead of the season’s biggest race.
“He knows he’s got another gear,” said Bosinger. “He lost time in the bottom section on both runs, but the skiing is in a place now where he can feel confident about going into the world championships and skiing with full intensity.”
Schladming, Austria, hosts the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships starting Feb. 5 and running to Feb. 17.