Canadian Guay wins downhill title in Norway – National
KVITFJELL, Norway – Erik Guay has never been a fan of skiing with pain but is showing he can adapt and overcome.
The native of Mont-Tremblant, Que., captured a World Cup downhill event Saturday, his second this year and fifth career victory on the circuit. And it came on one of his favourite courses as two of his victories and four of his 22 podium finishes have come at Kvitfjell, where there’s a super-G scheduled for Sunday.
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“There are a lot of similarities (between Norway and Quebec),” Guay said during a conference call. “When I left Quebec it was raining and warm and that’s pretty much exactly what it’s here but it can easily be -30 C, again, a lot like Quebec.
“I feel comfortable when I come here.”
Guay finished fourth in a downhill event Friday. The impressive showings came following a respectable 10th-place effort in the downhill at the Sochi Games.
But Guay said he battled knee issues in Russia. He had knee surgery in the summer and claimed a World Cup downhill in Val Gardena, Italy, in December but didn’t feel anywhere near 100 per cent in Sochi.
“It (knee) affected me a lot,” he said. “I have a hard time skiing through pain, I have a hard time really finding that courage, that determination to fight through it and push on the ski.
“I was trying not to mention it too much in the media because I wanted to put it out of my head completely and sort of pretend and focus that it wasn’t even there. You definitely have that on the brain and it was affecting me because I couldn’t do a proper preparation for the Games.”
However, Guay said he’s working on improving his mental ability to deal with injury much like teammate Jan Hudec of Calgary, who has overcome numerous ailments to succeed on the world scene.
“The ideal situation is to not have that pain and I plan to deal with it in the off-season,” Guay said. “Right now I’m trying to work through it and I think it’s an important thing.
“If I look at a guy like Jan Hudec, probably one of his biggest strengths is that strength and character he shows when he has those injuries. I know he skiis in a lot of pain so I like to watch those circumstances and try to emulate them. It’s not always easy for me. I think when I don’t feel 100 per cent it’s tough for me to go out and attack it but i’d like to think it’s getting better.”
Guay, 32, finished ahead of Frenchman Johan Clarey and Olympic champion Matthias Mayer of Austria.
American Travis Ganong, who was third Friday, narrowly missed out on another podium, finishing 0.62 seconds back in fourth. Bode Miller, a bronze medallist in the super-G at the Sochi Olympics, was eighth.
Conditions were overcast and a little foggy but unlike Friday’s downhill the rain stayed away. Guay had a time of one minute 22.17 seconds, finishing 0.35 seconds ahead of Clarey — who secured a third career podium.
“It’s difficult conditions, soft snow. I think you need a really well-balanced touch,” Guay said. “If you’re too aggressive or leaning in a little bit, it’s easy to lose (time).”
Jeffrey Frisch of Mont-Tremblant finished 17th while Manuel Osborne-Paradis of North Vancouver, B.C., was 21st. Benjamin Thomsen of Invermere, B.C., was 43rd, finishing one spot ahead of Hudec. Other Canadians included: Conrad Pridy of Whistler, B.C., (50th), Toronto’s Dustin Cook (59th) and Morgan Pridy of Whistler (60th).
Meanwhile, it was the best result of Clarey’s career.
“It shows anything can happen, even late on. Better late than never,” Clarey said. “I’m not hugely confident at the moment and the Olympics were difficult for me to cope with mentally.”
Clarey had pondered retirement after the Sochi Games, where he didn’t finish the downhill and was 19th in super-G.
“This changes my ideas a little bit from a psychological point of view,” he said. “Even though my knee’s still pretty banged up.”
Despite already having an Olympic gold medal, the 23-year-old Mayer clinched his first career podium in World Cup downhill and only his third overall.
“I had a lot of things to do, with celebrating the Olympic victory back home. I hadn’t much time for me to be prepared,” Mayer said. “I can be happy with this result. It’s very difficult to be fast here, with the soft snow it’s not the best conditions.”
Ganong finished fifth in the downhill at the Sochi Olympics.
“I really thought I could (win), so I pushed a little harder and had a couple mistakes. I was able to make up a lot of time on the bottom and salvage fourth place,” he said. “It’s really fun skiing right now. I’m having a good time and the results are coming.”
Olympic super-G champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who tied for the win Friday with Austrian Georg Streitberger, placed fifth.
“I made a couple of mistakes which I didn’t think I would make,” Jansrud said. “Fell on my inside ski a couple of times, I had to support myself on my hand.”
Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was tied for sixth with Switzerland’s Silvan Zurbriggen.
With files from The Associated Press.
©2014The Canadian Press
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