Rough ride for ‘Canadian Cowboy’

‘Give me a couple of hours and I’ll be able to snap out of it,’ Erik Guay says of disappointment

by Ken MacQueen

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It’s the little things that count, and whatever those little things are in a sport of micro-seconds, a dejected downhiller Erik Guay would rather not reveal them after a bad day for Canadians at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre in the mountains above Sochi. He’ll reserve that discussion for his coaches, who include his younger brother Stefan Guay, his confidant and technical guru. “I work with him day in and day out,” he says of his bro. “He knows it more than anyone. He knows my skiing. It’s there in free skiing, it’s there in training. It’s sometimes there on the way down the course and it’s not far away. A few adjustments and maybe a few more kilometres on the track and hopefully it will turn around.”

Guay finished 10th after starting in 21st position on a deteriorating course, 0.81 of a second behind Matthias Mayer of Austria, who won gold. Some days a top speed of 134.25 km/h just won’t do it for you. “It was a tough track to attack from the back and I wasn’t able to do it today,” he said.

Guay, 32, left the rest of the aging “Canadian Cowboy” contingent further down the trail. Ben Thomsen, by far the youngest at 26, finished 19th, Jan Hudec was 21st and Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 25th. It’s too early to say if this is the last roundup for some of the posse.

Certainly Guay isn’t talking retirement, he remains a potent threat on the World Cup circuit. In December he clocked his 21st career podium, becoming the most decorated Canadian World Cup alpine skier. That eclipsed the 20 podium appearances by former Crazy Canuck Steve Podborski, who is everywhere at these Games in his role as Canada’s Chef de Mission.

The Winter Games have been a heartbreak for Guay, who has won everything there is to win on the slopes, except for an Olympic medal. In Turin in 2006, he came fourth in the super-G, missing out on the podium by a tenth of a second. In Vancouver in 2010 he finished fifth in both the downhill and the super-G, missing the podium in the latter by an agonizing 0.03 seconds. It was, the best performance by Canada’s Alpine team in Whistler 2010, but a disappointment for the personable and competitive resident of resort rival Mont-Tremblant, Que., where the family is skiing royalty. His mother Ellen was a ski instructor, father Conrad was a ski coach, his two brothers, Kristian and Stefan, were both former national team members.

“Right now at this particular moment I’m a bit grumpy or sad, or whatever word you want to use to describe today’s run,” Erik said with a shrug. “I’m a veteran, I’ve been through this before. Give me a couple of hours and I’ll be able to snap out of it and refocus. I think I have a good chance in [Feb. 16] in the super-G.”




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Rough ride for ‘Canadian Cowboy’

  1. Did anyone think that Putin would let a guy named Eric Guay win one of the premier Winter Olympics’ events? It would be like a guy named Sammy Liberal winning a seat in Alberta.

    • Give me a break , he gagged , like Spencer O’Brien did , the reigning world champion — that’s O’Brien. Few of them had fallen on both runs — that’s her, too. Way too often has the #1 been Canadian , then gag on the biggest stage .

      • I think you mean “choked,” not “gagged.”
        I do agree there seems to be something about Canadian world champions not fulfilling their potential at the Olympics. Just look at how men’s figure skating world champions have struggled for the past thirty years.

        • Choked … gagged … same thing … felt the pressure , then wilted like a month old cut flower . It would be fine if it wasn’t we , the taxpayers , funding the party for these athletes . Do we , the taxpayers get a cut of any endorsement deals . As an ex skier on Canada’s alpine team said upon retirement .. paraphrasing ..
          ” Am I sad about retiring ? Yes I am , where else can I get a job like this , good pay (through endorsements) get paid to travel the world and party”

          • So we cut to the chase. You’re not that upset about Guay’s failure to win as you are not getting a piece of the proceeds? Whenever I read a comment talking about “we the taxpayers” it usually devolves into an argument about somebody getting something that the writer can’t. Sour grapes.

          • Call it what you want . We , those that can’t , fund these athletes , send them to fornication festivals throughout the world . We take the risk (pay for their training , hand holders , coaches etc , simply let them pay their own way , let them reap the benefits , keep your hands off my wallet . I have been PLAYING and PAYING my own way for sports for over 50 years .

          • Shame you didn’t have the talent.

          • No , the shame is 1/3 of Canadian kids can’t afford to play sports . I knew a long time ago my sporting limitations and the Olympic soccer team is not scouting the over 60yr old teams looking for players . So no glory for me . LOL .
            However that did not stop me from competing at a high as level as I could achieve . Playing the best amateur soccer team in Canada to a 3-2 penalty shot loss after overtime is not Olympic standard but some of those I did play against did play for the Olympic soccer team .
            The tragedy is that the money that goes to the “Owe the Podium” program , goes there and not to children that can use the financial support . I think sport is an important part of life , and to deny children a chance to play , because of the cost , has many ramifications (none of them good) .

      • I wish no Canadians would win a world championship just before the games just a dismal record of failure in the Olympics. Think the last athlete to win both the world championship and gold medal was Catarina Lemay-Doan and that is awhile ago.

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