Remme and Pridy capture Canadian downhill titles


Morgan Pridy racing on the World Cup circuit earlier this season. GEPA/Harald Steiner

Morgan Pridy racing on the World Cup circuit earlier this season. GEPA/Harald Steiner

WHISTLER, Canada — One of Canada’s most promising young skiers surprised even herself when she won the national downhill title at the Sport Chek Canadian Championships in Whistler, B.C. on Friday (March 21) – in only the second downhill race of her career.

The 18-year-old national development team racer from Collingwood, Ont., Roni Remme is a hugely talented technical skier who counts slalom as her best event and only made her downhill debut at the World Junior Championships in Slovakia earlier this month, where she was 33rd.

On Friday, Remme beat out World Cup stars Marie-Pier Prefontaine and Erin Mielzynski – neither of whom are downhillers, either – to claim top honors at the opening race at the national championships.

“It’s definitely unexpected,” said Remme, who clocked a time of one minute, 7.73 seconds, and also claimed top junior honors. “I’ve always been more invested in the technical events, and I just did my first downhill a couple of weeks ago. The goal is always to become the best all-round skier but I’ve never really thought about downhill.”

Remme, a product of the National Ski Academy, was third-fastest in Thursday’s second downhill training run and her goal was to clean up some of the sections she had struggled with earlier in the week.

“I knew I was skiing the top really well,” Remme said. “A little lower down I ran into some soft snow and I was really (mad). I got fired up and I think that helped me in the next part.”

Remme was third in slalom at the NorAm Cup finals last week and finished the season ranked fourth in the overall slalom standings. She’s long been seen as one of the finest up-and-coming young talents on the ladies’ side, but even her coach admitted she caught a lot of people by surprise with her downhill skills.

“Even this year she was a little bit reluctant to do downhill,” said development team coach Peter Rybarik. “We believe it will help her in the future but it was Roni who decided that at world juniors she would do her first downhill.

“Her result (Friday) was surprising for some people but we knew she had the ability. It’s good to see because although she’s focusing more on slalom this shows she’s not afraid to ski fast.”

Préfontaine, of Saint-Sauveur, Que. – generally a super G and giant slalom skier – was the favorite heading into Friday’s race after she won Wednesday’s first training run. She finished second with Mielzynski coming in third. Whistler Mountain Ski Club’s Charley Field, of BC Alpine, was fourth.

“It was really fun. It was sunny and I loved the air time,” said Mielzynski, a slalom specialist who in 2012 became the first Canadian since 1971 to win a World Cup slalom race.

“It was interesting today. I inspected the course with (former 15-time Canadian champion) Britt Janyk and she was able to help me. It’s my first downhill race in three years but I loved it!”

Larisa Yurkiw won the downhill in 2013, but she wasn’t able to defend her title due to injury. All-rounder Marie-Michèle Gagnon would have been a contender as well, but she was racing at the U.S. national championships where she captured the slalom title Saturday before flying to Whistler for the tech races at Canadian championships.

In the men’s race on Saturday (March 22), Morgan Pridy added a national downhill title by more than half a second to an increasingly impressive resumé that included a breakthrough 10th-place finish at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The 23-year-old hometown hero, who grew up racing on the slopes of Whistler, B.C., provided further evidence that he’s ready to emerge from the shadows of the Canadian Cowboys and establish himself as one of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team’s rising stars.

With three-time World Cup winner Manuel Osborne-Paradis withdrawing due to a back problem and Canadian World Cup podium record holder Erik Guy and Olympic bronze medalist Jan Hudec also absent, Pridy took top honors as Canada’s next generation of speed skiers battled for the prestigious downhill crown. Tyler Werry, who has been training with the national development team, was second Saturday, while Ben Thomsen was third.

“It’s super cool to have a national championship title,” said Pridy of his first podium at nationals. “I got a little bit of luck with the conditions – a couple of course holds here and there and the fog coming in and out – but it all worked out. I’m super happy.”

Pridy, the younger brother of fellow national team racer Conrad, was identified by his teammates and coaches as one to watch going into the 2013-14 season. Like a lot of young racers, he found it difficult to break through on the World Cup circuit but two top-30 finishes in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in January, helped him make Canada’s team for Sochi. He excelled in his Olympic debut, finishing a superb 10th in the super G on the same day Hudec became the first Canadian in 20 years to win an Olympic medal.

“I really needed this. It’s a nice weight off my shoulders going into the off-season,” explained Pridy, who needed points from the national championships in order to set himself up for next season. “We have a chance to score FIS results here, which is great.

“I would have liked to have raced Johnny (Kucera), Manny, Erik and Jan for the title but that’s how it works out and I’m pretty pleased with the result, for sure.”

Super G has been Pridy’s best discipline this season, and he’s also considered a strong prospect in giant slalom. Due to his smaller frame, he’s not an archetypal downhiller, but he showed Saturday that he’s making big strides in the glamour discipline.

“I really don’t want to have another season where I’m only performing in one discipline,” said Pridy. “I want to race and do well every weekend – not five days out of every year. Downhill is something I’m going to have to work hard at but today is great. I’m going to be focusing more on giant slalom and I’ll do everything here (at nationals) except slalom.”

With the fog rolling in and out Saturday, the weather was a factor in a race that was extremely tight – with positions two through nine separated by less than four-tenths of a second. U.S. veteran Steven Nyman – a two-time World Cup winner who was a major podium threat – was one of the racers who went down in less than perfect conditions.

Werry, who won the NorAm Cup super G title to earn himself a World Cup spot for next season, was second Saturday. Thomsen, who struggled on the World Cup this season but came through with a clutch 12th-place finish in the Kitzbuehel downhill to qualify for the Olympics, had a strong run Saturday to claim his first podium at nationals.

“I thought it was a pretty good run but apparently I was missing a couple of things,” said Thomsen. “Morgan skied really, really well today – he really brought his A-game. I’m really happy that I’m on the podium.”

Veteran Jeffrey Frisch of Mont-Tremblant, Que., who was second in downhill at the 2013 nationals and won the super G, finished fourth, while Nyman was one-hundredth of a second back in fifth. Development team racer William Schuessler-Bédard (Club de ski Sutton/Ski Québec Alpin) was the top U21 in sixth, while Cameron Alexander of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club was the top U18 in 17th.

Release courtesy of Alpine Canada

 

WOMEN’S RESULTS

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  18  107583 REMME Roni 1996 CAN  1:07.73  56.07
 2  10  106825 PREFONTAINE Marie-Pier 1988 CAN  1:07.89  +0.16  59.31
 3  22  106961 MIELZYNSKI Erin 1990 CAN  1:08.09  +0.36  63.35
 4  12  107469 FIELD Charley 1995 CAN  1:08.17  +0.44  64.97
 5  19  107518 BARTLETT Caroline 1995 CAN  1:08.45  +0.72  70.63
 6  11  107497 POITRAS Adrienne 1995 CAN  1:08.58  +0.85  73.26
 7  13  107044 IRWIN Madison 1991 CAN  1:08.77  +1.04  77.11
 8  16  107532 TOMMY Mikaela 1995 CAN  1:08.81  +1.08  77.92
 9  14  107613 GRENIER Valerie 1996 CAN  1:09.08  +1.35  83.38
 10  9  107352 BERMEL Rebecca 1994 CAN  1:09.42  +1.69  90.25
 11  24  107698 MARTIN Mikayla 1997 CAN  1:09.53  +1.80  92.48
 12  8  107387 CRAWFORD Candace 1994 CAN  1:09.66  +1.93  95.11
 13  7  107447 GOULD Stephanie 1994 CAN  1:09.78  +2.05  97.54
 14  3  107427 ST-GERMAIN Laurence 1994 CAN  1:09.94  +2.21  100.77
 15  21  107424 SCHMIDT Hannah 1994 CAN  1:10.16  +2.43  105.22
 16  17  107415 MOORE Kelly 1994 CAN  1:10.23  +2.50  106.64
 17  26  107648 BURGESS Georgia 1997 CAN  1:10.29  +2.56  107.85
 18  1  107570 STEEVES Kelly 1996 CAN  1:10.36  +2.63  109.27
 19  4  107515 WELLS Alix 1995 CAN  1:10.42  +2.69  110.48
 20  2  107695 WEARMOUTH Antonia 1997 CAN  1:10.62  +2.89  114.53
 21  6  107491 NORTON Gina 1995 CAN  1:10.64  +2.91  114.93
 22  15  107512 TURNER Andrea 1995 CAN  1:11.36  +3.63  129.50
 23  23  6535460 KEPL Elizabeth 1996 USA  1:12.95  +5.22  161.66
 24  25  107484 KWONG Alysia 1995 CAN  1:16.72  +8.99  237.91
Did not start 1st run
 20  107482 KING Emma 1995 CAN
 5  107384 CLARKE Devon 1994 CAN

 

MEN’S RESULTS

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  7  103612 PRIDY Morgan 1990 CAN  1:04.01  8.00
 2  5  103762 WERRY Tyler 1991 CAN  1:04.56  +0.55  19.77
 3  6  103271 THOMSEN Benjamin 1987 CAN  1:04.67  +0.66  22.13
 4  18  103512 FRISCH Jeffrey 1984 CAN  1:04.69  +0.68  22.55
 5  9  533866 NYMAN Steven 1982 USA  1:04.70  +0.69  22.77
 6  11  104015 SCHUESSLER BEDARD William 1993 CAN  1:04.73  +0.72  23.41
 7  2  100558 COOK Dustin 1989 CAN  1:04.74  +0.73  23.62
 8  8  103385 PRIDY Conrad 1988 CAN  1:04.89  +0.88  26.83
 9  12  104023 STEINKE Chris 1993 CAN  1:04.92  +0.91  27.48
 10  14  103942 BELL Jeffrey 1993 CAN  1:05.20  +1.19  33.47
 11  16  103984 LAJOIE Vincent 1993 CAN  1:05.40  +1.39  37.75
 12  17  103729 READ Erik 1991 CAN  1:05.58  +1.57  41.60
 13  10  103997 MEGARRY Morgan 1993 CAN  1:05.62  +1.61  42.46
 14  1  104238 KUUS Karl 1995 CAN  1:05.78  +1.77  45.88
 15  13  103857 ST-GERMAIN William 1992 CAN  1:05.86  +1.85  47.60
 16  3  103676 BROWN Philip 1991 CAN  1:05.99  +1.98  50.38
 17  44  104537 ALEXANDER Cameron 1997 CAN  1:06.36  +2.35  58.30
 18  25  104265 RAMSDEN Blake 1995 CAN  1:06.75  +2.74  66.64
 19  30  104246 LYNOTT Patrick 1995 CAN  1:06.80  +2.79  67.71
 20  22  104272 SEGER Brodie 1995 CAN  1:06.82  +2.81  68.14
 21  48  104525 PEIFFER Max 1997 CAN  1:06.83  +2.82  68.36
 21  19  104378 GOUGEON Jake 1996 CAN  1:06.83  +2.82  68.36
 23  50  104529 MULLIGAN Sam 1997 CAN  1:07.04  +3.03  72.85
 24  21  104436 QUENNEVILLE Raphael 1996 CAN  1:07.08  +3.07  73.71
 25  26  104308 TRUSLER Thomas 1995 CAN  1:07.35  +3.34  79.49
 26  27  104269 RONSKY Russell 1995 CAN  1:07.58  +3.57  84.41
 27  23  104153 MCCONVILLE Patrick 1994 CAN  1:07.68  +3.67  86.55
 28  45  104531 CRAWFORD James 1997 CAN  1:07.72  +3.71  87.40
 29  29  104156 NACIUK Anthony 1994 CAN  1:07.88  +3.87  90.83
 30  36  104233 HAWKINS Devon 1995 CAN  1:07.93  +3.92  91.90
 31  42  104347 LEITCH Jack 1996 CAN  1:08.10  +4.09  95.54
 32  24  104268 MERCIER ROBIN William 1995 CAN  1:08.25  +4.24  98.75
 33  32  6531526 OSBORNE Andrew 1996 USA  1:08.29  +4.28  99.60
 34  35  104407 LALIBERTE Felix 1996 CAN  1:08.32  +4.31  100.25
 35  53  104399 WALTON William 1996 CAN  1:08.33  +4.32  100.46
 36  37  104412 BRUNEAU-BOUCHARD William 1996 CAN  1:08.42  +4.41  102.39
 37  34  104367 KIRSHENBLATT Samuel 1996 CAN  1:08.51  +4.50  104.31
 38  33  104245 LLEWELLYN Austin 1995 CAN  1:08.53  +4.52  104.74
 39  49  104539 SEGER Riley 1997 CAN  1:08.65  +4.64  107.31
 40  57  104301 MCCONVILLE Will 1995 CAN  1:08.70  +4.69  108.38
 41  46  104277 TAYLOR Collin 1995 CAN  1:08.95  +4.94  113.73
 42  39  104282 YATES Kyle 1995 CAN  1:08.98  +4.97  114.37
 43  40  104280 WONNACOTT Benjamin 1995 CAN  1:09.08  +5.07  116.51
 44  38  104160 PITFIELD Graham 1994 CAN  1:09.13  +5.12  117.58
 45  47  104213 BROWN Scott 1995 CAN  1:09.25  +5.24  120.15
 46  58  104528 HUTCHISON Jonathan 1997 CAN  1:09.47  +5.46  124.86
 47  31  304488 KOTAKE Yoriaki 1994 JPN  1:09.54  +5.53  126.36
 48  43  104293 CHEWPA Olexa 1995 CAN  1:09.61  +5.60  127.86
 49  52  104535 LLEWELLYN Carson 1997 CAN  1:09.67  +5.66  129.14
 50  51  104352 ROBERTS A.J. 1996 CAN  1:09.78  +5.77  131.49
 51  54  104532 ARMSTRONG Harrison 1997 CAN  1:10.04  +6.03  137.06
 52  56  104541 GERSHON Alex 1997 CAN  1:11.02  +7.01  158.03
 53  41  104281 WOOD Clinton 1995 CAN  1:11.09  +7.08  159.53
 54  55  6531864 KRAY Corbin 1997 USA  1:12.30  +8.29  185.43
Did not start 1st run
 20  102899 OSBORNE-PARADIS Manuel 1984 CAN
Did not finish 1st run
 28  103964 FRY Steven 1993 CAN
 15  104409 QUEZEL Lambert 1996 CAN
 4  104096 THOMPSON Broderick 1994 CAN
Canadian Gagnon wins $20 bet and US championship slalom McJames concludes champs week with FIS GS win

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