It’s March 22, 1982 — Andrée and Bill Janyk are celebrating the birth of their second child, a boy. At the same time, Peter Monod is celebrating his fourth and final Canadian men’s slalom title, a new record for all-time national championships in the discipline.
Thirty-one years later, Monod still holds a share of that record. But the baby boy born at the same time he established it is poised to surpass him this week.
Mike Janyk can make history at home by winning a fifth national slalom crown during the Sport Chek Canadian Alpine Championships, which begin with downhill training sessions scheduled for Thursday (March 21) and will run until Wednesday (March 27).
“I’m really looking forward to racing nationals in Whistler again,” Janyk told The Question, “I love racing at home and the chance at another slalom title is cool.”
Janyk, Monod and Thomas Grandi are all tied with four Canadian slalom titles apiece. Grandi in particular had a lot of influence on Janyk early in his career and the Whistler skier said it’s “something a little special” to be challenging a record held jointly with one of his mentors.
“Tom was a huge part of my development in my career and any time I can be named in the same sentence as him when it comes to ski racing, it’s an honour,” said Janyk, who recalled advice Grandi gave him during the 2006 season on the eve of his best-ever World Cup result at the time.
“He told me: ‘Mike, it’s way better to have one great result than 10 mediocre results. Stop holding back in the races.’ The next day I was fourth — although he was third, in front of me by one-hundredth of a second.”
Reached in Banff this week, Monod said he won’t be disappointed if Janyk takes the record to himself.
“I’m surprised somebody hasn’t broken it before … I’m glad to hear my name’s still out there,” laughed Monod. “Mike’s a great skier — a much better skier than I ever was — and he deserves to have that title.”
Janyk’s first of the four wins came in 2004, while the most recent was in 2010. He’s skied well in the past few weeks, earning multiple top-15 World Cup and world championship results to rebound from a difficult start to the year.
The 31-year-old also recorded back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Nor-Am Cup finals in Calgary, which debuted a newly-built slalom course at Canada Olympic Park that Alpine Canada officials hope to see host a women’s World Cup race in the future. The results put Janyk second behind Banff’s Paul Stutz in the season’s Nor-Am slalom rankings.
Members of the Canadian World Cup team will race alongside up-and-coming and junior racers during the week at the Dave Murray National Training Centre, which starts with two days of training before Saturday’s (March 23) men’s downhill and closes with the men’s slalom and women’s GS on Wednesday.
Erik Guay and Jan Hudec are not expected to attend but Manuel Osborne-Paradis will be back to race on his home hill, as will Whistler’s Pridy brothers and Invermere’s Ben Thomsen — making it a wide-open field in the men’s speed races.
The rising stars of the Canadian women’s team will also be on hand for the week and go head-to-head for national titles. Marie-Michele Gagnon has cleaned up at nationals in the past few years, coming in as the three-time defending slalom champ. She also won the Canadian giant slalom title when it was last contested in 2011.
Meanwhile, World Cup winner Erin Mielzynski has never won a national title in the past, but will look to change that this week. Sun Peaks skier Elli Terwiel, Quebec’s Marie-Pier Préfontaine and Ontario’s Larisa Yurkiw are among the other national team skiers who will be in contention.
“All of our girls — Gagnon and Mielzynski included — want to be national champions and they are going to fight hard for that,” said Canadian women’s team head coach Hugues Ansermoz in a release. “There’s going to be some good racing and hopefully we see a few young girls giving some good performances.”
The top skiers who focus on one or two disciplines during the World Cup campaign will often test themselves in other events at the Canadian Championships, and Janyk hinted he may do exactly that this week.
“I do have some long skis out here, but we’ll have to see,” he said.
Canadian Alpine Championships Schedule
Thursday, Friday — Downhill Training
Saturday — Men’s Downhill
Sunday — Women’s Downhill
Monday (March 25) — Super-G
Tuesday (March 26) — women’s slalom, men’s GS
Wednesday (March 27) — men’s slalom, women’s GS
Schedule subject to change. Start times 10 a.m.; Awards daily at Creekside, 4 p.m.