Guay wins downhill gold at alpine worlds
Erik Guay experienced an unusual phenomenon Saturday as he sped down the Kandahar course at the alpine world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The 29-year-old Canadian skier raced to a gold medal win in one minute, 58.41 seconds, and did it by keeping his cool.
"It's a weird feeling to be able to go down and be dynamic and aggressive and at the same time being completely calm about it," said Guay, on the phone from Germany.
"I didn't feel like I was out of control at all on the way down. I felt like everything was kind of coming slowly.
"It's really a neat feeling — I kind of call that 'magic skiing.'"
Guay finished ahead of World Cup downhill champion Didier Cuche from Switzerland by 0.32. Christof Innerhofer of Italy, who won the gold in Wednesday's super-G, trailed Guay 0.76 to place third.
"It's really amazing. Some of the best skiers in the world came down after me but my time stood," Guay said. "I had put my money on Cuche."
Guay is the second straight Canadian to win a world downhill title, following 2009 champion John Kucera, who is now recovering from breaking his left leg last season.
There worlds are held every two years.
This season, Canadian racers have had a difficult time with injury, leaving Guay on his own on the Kandahar course, as the Canadian ski team lost many of its members to injuries.
The most recent was Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who suffered a torn left knee and broken fibula two weeks ago during a World Cup downhill race in Chamonix, France.
Guay dedicated his victory to his injured teammates.
"Our team has gone through hard times," Guay said. "So this title is for them, who are recovering. They will be back."
Garmisch-Partenkirchen has been good to the Mont-Tremblant, Que., native, as he won two of his three World Cup races on the same German course. Last March, he won the super-G to earn the discipline's Crystal Globe for overall points leader.
"Garmisch has always been a good place for me ever since I've come onto the World Cup," Guay said. "It's just one of those places I feel right."
Podium finishes have eluded him in the past. He finished fourth at the 2006 Olympics in Torino and was three-100ths of a second shy of making the podium at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
But Guay's world championship victory was the pinnacle of his strong performances of late, despite ongoing back issues. He is the only Canadian to reach a World Cup podium this season, earning a bronze in the super-G at Val Gardena, Italy, in December.
Guay said he has finally earned redemption for his agonizingly close finishes in top competition.
"I think if you stay at it long enough and you persist, eventually it's going to go in your favour … It is definitely a monkey off my back now," he said.
"No one can say that I don't perform in big events."