Day dedicated to Play

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

LAKE LOUISE -- At the tail end of yet another successful season opener for Canada's top female downhillers, Kelly VanderBeek added some perspective to her somewhat disappointing effort yesterday.

"I was inspecting (the course) and thinking, 'All I have to do is throw myself down a mountain -- this is nothing compared to what the kids are facing in Africa,' " said the Chilliwack, B.C. resident on a day her team pledged to donate all their winnings to the Right To Play initiative aimed at improving the lives of third-world children through sport.

"I wish I could have come home with a lot of prize money today to make a difference in the world, but it's not a cause I'm going to step away from.

"I'll be donating as much as I can as often as I can through ski initiates like this in the future."

While VanderBeek's 16th-place kept her out of the money at the Winterstart World Cup Super G opener, Whistler's Britt Janyk saved the day once again, finishing ninth to chip in several thousand dollars for the cause.

It also served to demonstrate once again that after 11 frustrating seasons on the World Cup technical circuit the 27-year-old finally belongs amongst the world's top speed queens.

"I'm happy with my run. I know I'm skiing well and am right there with the top girls in the world," said Janyk, who snared her first World Cup podium Saturday with a surprising third in the downhill.

"It was an amazing weekend. I barely slept (Saturday) night. My mind wouldn't go to sleep. It feels great to step off the podium, but it felt really good to be the first Canadian to do it in the downhill here. I think we're going to come out of this weekend with really good energy and a lot of confidence."

Brydon may not feel the same way as she slumped over after her 34th-place finish and needed plenty of time in the finish area to compose herself before addressing the media.

Calgary's Sherry Lawrence finished just behind her in 36th.

"I think I tried a little bit too hard. It's such an easy course that if you give it any respect you don't get anything from it," said Brydon, a Right to Play ambassador, trying to use her teammates' success to keep her positive.

"What (the weekend) shows is we have a strong team, and while everyone didn't have a strong race, we put someone in there."

With winds starting to pick up and temperatures hovering below minus-25, Janyk finished just under a second behind Swiss race winner Martina Schild.

"Today was about raising funds and showing support as a team together for Right to Play," said Janyk, whose podium Saturday enabled the women to keep pace with the men's squad, which saw Calgary's Jan Hudec win last week's downhill here.

"I'm happy to be giving them some money. We raised some funds today, and I know the relationship will grow in the future."

The women now move on to Aspen, Colo., where they'll continue trying to push one another as the men's team did last year en route to a record 13 World Cup and World Championship medals.

The women had two.

Yesterday, the men continued their success with two top-ten finishes in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek, Colo., where Calgary's John Kucera was sixth and Francois Bourque was ninth.


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