Erik Guay gave the home standing Canadians reason to heighten their always evident optimism by finishing the final training run of the Lake Louise Winterstart downhill Friday (Nov. 25) with the second fastest time, behind only Frenchman Adrien Theaux. Swede Hans Olsson posted the third fastest time.
“The key word,” said Guay, “is training.”
True enough. Friday’s “race” doesn’t count for anything, though there were a few skiers looking to ski their way into Saturday’s race, the first downhill of the 2012 World Cup season. Asked what he had learned from his run – four and seven tenths seconds out from Theaux’s clocking – Ted Ligety cracked a smile and responded, “I learned I’m not racing tomorrow.”
Not with the showing from the rest of the U.S. group, helped no doubt by Ligety’s course report. Despite some less than ideal start numbers, the group clocked in well. In a bunch start Erik Fisher went from 36th to 20th Marco Sullivan from 38th to 14th and Travis Ganong sparked from 39th to eighth. In addition Wiley Maple started 49th and moved up 11 slots to 38th.
Bode Miller finished 26th. Ryan Cochran-Siegle had a strong run from the 72nd start to tie Maple in 38th and Ace Tarberry, skiing from the 81st position when weather had deteriorated at the top of the hill, finished a creditable 55th.
“It was,” said head men’s coach Sasha Rearick, “a good step forward. It was better skiing, but we still have work to do.”
There was snow falling throughout the race and though the sun did create shadows sporadically during the day it was cold (-8c) and more critical to the outcome, it was windy with gusts that hit some racers head on and pushed others along. By the end of the 83 starters, the top third of the course had socked in with fog and swirling wind.
Guay said he had gotten “a little tailwind,” and added “there was a lot of loose snow in the flats. … There was a lot of stuff going on, so as far as a good result on race day, I’m not setting my sites too high.”
With the rest of the Canadian group all down the finish order – Robbie Dixon was respectable in 36th
and Ryan Temple climbed from the 73rd start to post the 43rd fastest time – most improving minimally or not at all on their start numbers – Guay was a popular guy in the press corrall. But learning he had a bigger objective than a win Saturday caused some pause.
After his back had reacted poorly to the first training run, he said, he was a touch surprise to find himself so relaxed on course Friday. “My objective is to walk away on Sunday with my back feeling good,” he said. “It’s a long season.”
Erik Guay photo by Gepa
|OFFICIAL RESULTS – THIRD TRAINING|
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time|
|7||10||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:51.01|
|67||78||191746||DE TESSIERES Gauthier||1981||FRA||1:53.67|
|Did not start 1st run|