Janyk cashes in

ERIC FRANCIS, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

LAKE LOUISE -- After 11 seasons on the Canadian team and just one year after putting her own money on the line to prove she still belonged, Britt Janyk finally found a World Cup podium yesterday.

And when asked to explain how a lifelong technical skier was able to have her breakthrough race as a downhiller to finish in third place, the 27-year-old Whistler native credited her younger brother.

"I don't exactly know why, but maybe part of it has to do with the fact I used to chase him and the guys down the hill growing up," said Janyk before her parents handed her a phone with congrats from brother Michael and the Canadian men's team he skis on.

"If you would have told me my first podium would be in downhill, I wouldn't have guessed it. I'm so glad I stuck with it."

Two summers ago, Janyk was told she'd have to put up $25,000 of her own money if she wanted to try re-qualifying for the national team, prompting her to contemplate her future in a sport her mother got her involved in at age two.

"It was frustrating, and I definitely thought about quitting, but every time I did, I wasn't happy -- I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather be doing," said Janyk, whose best downhill result was 10th before yesterday's Winterstart event.

"Then I realized how much the team has put into me and supported me. To put my own money on the line, I had to focus 100 per cent because I knew come race time I had to perform and get my money back. I learned a lot from it. As you can see, I still had a lot to prove."

By qualifying for the World Championships last year, where she finished fourth in super G, she reclaimed her team status and got 80% of her money back.

"The majority of people who have to pay don't continue on -- they pay and they don't make it the next year," said teammate Kelly VanderBeek, who finished 21st.

"It's always nice to see somebody who the team said 'we don't know if you're going to be good any more so you have to pay,' and they prove them wrong."

As part of her resurgence, Janyk decided after years as a super-G and giant-slalom specialist, she would take on World Cup downhill tracks she'd never seen before. As someone who grew up on skis, she didn't find the speed intimidating.

"Her mother took her down a double black diamond at Blackcomb at age five -- the moguls were bigger than she was -- but it wasn't a problem," said Janyk's father Bill, who watched with pride as his daughter pumped her fist in celebration following her run.

"We had a deal in our family -- if you got A's in school, you could go play hooky with mom on the ski hill," added mom, Andree, a school board trustee who skied for the national team. It was a school of a different sort."

American Lindsey Vonn (formerly Kildow) won the race for the fourth-straight year, followed by Austria's Renate Goetschl.

Today's super G could be interesting, as it's Janyk's specialty and a race VanderBeek finished third at last year.

The podium result was a huge shot in the arm for a women's team out-medaled 13-2 last year by a surging men's squad that saw Jan Hudec win here last weekend.

"After watching the men win here last weekend, I really just wanted to carry that forward," said Janyk, who studied video of Hudec's run.

"It was so great to see third place next to my name. I've been wanting to get on the podium so long and to do it in Canada, it feels so amazing."


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