Guay wins third training run

Guay wins third training runed. note: Hermann Maier and Fritz Strobl, both of Austria, have secured start positions for the men’s world championship downhill on Saturday. They join Michael Walchhofer and Johann Grugger among Austrians who get bibs for the prestigious event. One spot is left, and that will go to either Christoph Gruber or Werner Franz, based on their performances in a final training run scheduled for Friday.

BORMIO (ITA), February 2, 2005 While the men’s third downhill training run saw Erik Guay clinch the fastest time of the day on Bormio’s Stelvio, the women came close to staying off the Deborah Compagnoni piste for a second day in a row in Santa Caterina, As strong winds prevailed throughout the morning in Santa Caterina and Bormio, the race organizers were forced to use the combined start for today’s men’s and women’s downhill training runs.

Erik Guay, from Mont-Tremblant, did not let the winds unsettle his technique or his confidence. Indeed, the 23 year-old racer from Quebec set the pace on the men’s side, skiing the course in 1:54.62, 0.16 seconds ahead of Daron Rahlves from the United States and 0.20 ahead of Italy’s Kristian Ghedina.

‘I’m very happy with my run’ said Guay. ‘I was working on skiing a tighter line and on attacking more and it worked!’

‘The course is getting faster and bumpier each day. This is not a problem for me because I enjoy skiing on any type of conditions and I just focus on my game plan.’

‘I am a bit surprised to see where I ended up because it was windy and there were some sections were I could feel the wind blowing against me. But I guess the wind was a factor for everyone today.’

‘This is certainly a confidence booster’ exclaimed Guay. ‘Although anything can happen between the training and the races, I know that I’m on the right track.’

‘Sometimes, some of the faster guys slam on the brakes just before the finish so that no one can know their official time until race day. For some teams, today was a downhill qualification race so the majority of the field did go all out. I know I had a pretty good run and that is what matters to me’ he concluded.

François Bourque, from New Richmond, and one of the youngest racers entered in the race, was not far behind, clocking in a time of 1:55.74, 1.12 behind his speedy teammate, and good for 8th place.

‘This is super encouraging for tomorrow’ said Bourque who is competing in his first World Championships. ‘I tried on the skis I used at Lake Louise today and I really had good feelings. I will be looking to ski just as well tomorrow in the combined’ he added.

Three other Canadians cracked the top 30. Indeed, John Kucera from Calgary skied the course in 1:56.30 (18th place), Manuel Osborne-Paradis from Vancouver clocked in 1:56.54 (20th place tied with Bode Miller), and Jeff Hume, also from Vancouver, crossed the finish line in 1:57.16 (28th place).

Brad Spence from Calgary, who sustained a slight knee injury on Monday after his fall off a jump near the finish area, took another day off. Spence, who was expected to compete in the combined event, was pulled out of the competition after his coaches decided it was more important for him to recover and to prepare for the series of races following the World Championships.

Though winds diminished on the men’s side allowing the launch of the third and final training run before the combined race, the women faced sustained gusts, pushing the race committee to delay the start time.

After a first delay, the decision was made the further lower the start and to run a non-timed, training run for the women.

Yesterday, the ladies were sidelined due to snow accumulations and bad visibility. The race committee took advantage of this hiatus to shave off the primary jump found on the course and to slip a faster track. On the first day of training, the jump, located half way through the course, made two victims including a German and a Russian skier who both encountered season-ending knee injuries.

Today, Kelly Vanderbeek, who left the start gate wearing bib number one and who didn’t get the advantage of a course report, was happy with her run, affirming that the jump was much smoother and nicer to ski.

‘It’s so much better now that they’ve shaved the jump’ exclaimed Vanderbeek. ‘It was really funny at the start because there was no official start area and no timing system installed. It felt more like a casual training run where everyone is relaxed!’

Emily Brydon, who clinched the 4th fastest time on training number one, managed to ski solidly in spite of having been afflicted by a stomach flu overnight.

‘I didn’t feel 100% this morning’ confided Brydon. ‘I still tried to stick to my game plan in spite of the lower start, the delays, the lack of timing, and my flu. I look forward to watching video so that I can see where I can win more time before race day.’

Brigitte Acton and Anna Goodman, the Canadian delegation youngest female skiers at the 2005 World Alpine Ski Championships, continued to acquire valuable experience in preparation for the combined event.

The women are set to have another training run tomorrow while the men compete in the combined event.

The Canadian delegation for the men’s combined event will consist of Erik Guay, François Bourque, John Kucera, and Manuel Osborne-Paradis. As part of his strategy for the men’s downhill race held on Saturday, Guay is set to race in the downhill run of the combined event but not in the slalom races.

The schedule of events for the remainder of the World Championships is as follows :

Feb. 3, 2005 Men’s combined in Bormio
Feb. 4, 2005 Women’s combined in Santa Caterina Feb. 5, 2005 Men’s downhill in Bormio Feb. 6, 2005 Women’s downhill in Santa Caterina Feb. 8, 2005 Ladie’s giant slalom in Santa Caterina Feb. 9, 2005 Men’s giant slalom in Bormio Feb. 11, 2005 Ladie’s slalom in Santa Caterina Feb. 12, 2005 Men’s slalom in Bormio Feb, 13, 2005 Team competition

The FIS World Alpine Ski Championships will be televised, in Canada, on these channels :

· Radio-Canada Télévision
· CBC Sports

Check the Alpine Canada alpin website @ for the updated schedule.

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