Olympic alpine team unveiled
The 19 alpine skiers that will represent Canada at the Vancouver Olympics were announced on Wednesday, with Manny Osborne-Paradis and Emily Brydon leading the team to Whistler.
Osborne-Paradis has become one of the Canada's best medal contenders this season — winning two World Cup races, including the gold in Lake Louise during the same race that saw downhill world champion John Kucera go out with a broken leg in late November.
Max Gartner, CEO of Alpine Canada, said the injuries that have plagued the team this season mean fewer opportunities for results. "I think we still have the quality of people that can do it, " he said. "You just have less bullets."
Men: Julien Cousineau, Robbie Dixon, Jeffery Frisch, Erik Guay, Louis-Pierre Hélie, Jan Hudec, Michael Janyk, Manny Osborne-Paradis, Tyler Nella, Ryan Semple, Brad Spence, and Trevor White.
Women: Brigitte Acton, Emily Brydon, Marie-Michèle Gagnon, Britt Janyk, Shona Rubens, Anna Goodman, and Erin Mielzynski.
Brydon finished on the World Cup podium twice in the last month, and will carry much of the medal expectation with Kelly VanderBeek out with a broken knee.
Jan Hudec was also named to the team, after being considered on the bubble for final selections. The Calgary native spent the season battling into form, after undergoing his fifth knee surgery last winter. Hudec's top result this season was a 29th-place finish.
"He's a hundred per cent fit," said Gartner. "We still feel very confident that he will be at full speed come Olympic downhill time."
Erin Mielzynski, a member of the women's development team, was a surprise addition to the Olympic squad. The 19-year-old from Guelph, Ont., is expected to gain valuable Olympic experience for what looks to be a promising career, said Gartner.
"She is certainly an athlete that we would look forward to in 2014," said Gartner. "It's normally the second Olympic Games where your best performance comes, so we will take this opportunity to expose some of our younger athletes to the Olympic environment so they are ready for it — and know what to expect the next time around."
Anna Goodman was another surprise on the final roster. Goodman suffered a knee injury in Croatia ealier this month, but she is expected to recover in time for the Games.
Initially, 15 spots were granted by the IOC, with the four extra spots being added as other countries decided not to fill all of theirs. The maximum amount of spots available is 22, and three more may come open over the next week as the other countries make their final team selections.
Despite the injuries that have plagued the alpine team this season, Gartner said the alpine team has a goal of winning at least three medals in Vancouver.
Gartner said Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon will be key medal contenders for the men's team, which is particularly strong in downhill and super-G races. For the women, he said, Britt Janyk will carry heavy expectations with Brydon.