Erik Guay, Erin Mielzynski head Canada's alpine ski team
World champion Erik Guay and breakout slalom star Erin Mielzynski headline the 29 skiers named Thursday to the Canadian alpine ski team for the 2012-13 season.
Guay, from Mont Tremblant, Que., won the world downhill crown in 2011 and leads a men's speed team regaining strength after a rash of injuries in recent years.
Calgary's John Kucera won the world downhill title in 2009 and is returning from a knee injury he suffered later that year. Three-time World Cup winner Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Invermere, B.C., also missed this past season rehabbing a knee injury.
Ben Thomsen, also of Invermere, earned his first World Cup podium in February by finishing second on the Olympic downhill course in Sochi, Russia. Veteran Jan Hudec of Calgary and Robbie Dixon of Whistler, B.C., are consistent top-10 finishers on the World Cup circuit.
"The goal is come into the season with a healthy team, a full complement of podium-potential racers, and to try to defend our streak of world championship podiums," Alpine Canada vice-president Paul Kristofic said in a release.
Mielzynski of Guelph, Ont., rocketed out of obscurity in February to win Canada's first World Cup slalom since 1971. She and Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., are rising stars on the women's technical team.
Canada has developed depth in men's slalom and giant slalom, led by Michael Janyk of Whistler, Julien Cousineau of Lachute, Que., Jean-Philippe Roy of Sainte-Flavie, Que., and Calgarians Brad Spence and Trevor White.
Calgary's Erik Read, son of Canadian ski star Ken Read, will race in more World Cups this season after winning the overall Nor-Am title. Brothers Conrad and Morgan Pridy of Whistler and Calgary's Trevor Philp are also newcomers on the national team.
The rebuilding women's speed team will get reinforcements in the return of veterans Kelly VanderBeek of Kitchener, Ont., and Larisa Yurkiw of Owen Sound, Ont., from knee injuries. VanderBeek was fourth in super-G at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Meanwhile, Louis-Pierre Helie of Berthierville, Que., has switched to the freestyle sport of ski cross. The 26-year-old has raced for the alpine team since 2005 and competed in the super-combined at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The 2012-13 World Cup season is scheduled to open with slalom races in Soelden, Austria, in October. Lake Louise, Alta., will host World Cup men's downhill and super-G on Nov. 24 and 25, followed by women's races Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.
The 2013 world alpine ski championship will be Feb. 4-17 in Schladming, Austria.