Victory eases Olympic letdown

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

Erik Guay's late-season surge to the top of the skiing world masks an otherwise disappointing season for Alpine Canada.

Riddled with injuries that sidelined several of the squad's top contenders early on, the team left the Whistler Games without fulfilling its internal goal of winning at least one Olympic medal.

And while the team, re-branded the Canadian Cowboys and Canadian Speed Queens, has done well to resurrect the profile of a downhill ski program that has sagged since the Crazy Canucks, it missed a golden opportunity by failing to cash in at this year's Olympics.

And even though Guay's historic victory at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Thursday to clinch the World Cup super-G title is being toasted in Europe, it will do little to raise the profile of Canadian skiing.

"I think in Europe, where skiing is front and centre, they know Erik. But to get front and centre here, you need to perform at the Olympics," said Max Gartner, Alpine Canada's chief athletics officer.

"If he keeps these results up, he'll become more of a household name. I think today's result will certainly help."

While everyone agrees the Olympics represents a missed opportunity, Gartner said one of Alpine Canada's failings this season was explaining to people Guay's two fifth-place finishes at Whistler were not failures at all.

"Even if you're the best skier in our sport in one event, there's no guarantee you'll deliver that day -- that's a lesson we need to do a better job educating people about that," Gartner said. "The Olympics are a one shot deal and sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't.

"Erik winning the World Cup title shows who is the best skier over the season. It's been a program goal for a long time. That's something really special."


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