Season To Forget Leaves Speed Queens Mad And Hungry
|Britt Janyk: A little pissed off.|
“We’re coming out of this season frustrated and a little pissed off and we’re going to be hungry. That’s a good thing,” said Janyk via telephone from Are, Sweden, where she was 15th in a women’s super-G.
They’ve got plenty of reason to be upset. This is a team that had a podium result on every weekend of World Cup speed racing last season but one – and Janyk was fourth in Whistler that week – but this year could not score a single podium. The best result was Emily Brydon’s fifth in a downhill in Altenmarkt, Austria in December.
Head coach Heinzpeter Platter said there were a number of factors that figured in their demise and that the coaching staff is pouring over everything from this Olympic cycle in search for answers. One thing that hurt the team is that many courses this season were much more technical and the team’s strength is on traditional downhills.
“Our girls were sick this year a lot, too,” said Platter. “Maybe they were over-trained, but we really have to sit down and talk. This season, maybe we were too confident after last season that things would continue this way. We were struggling, there were no podiums the first races. We weren’t panicking, but we were not happy. And when you’re not happy, you try harder. And when you try harder, maybe things are going worse.”
To understand how far Canada’s Speed Queens plummeted this season, one need only look at the Janyk’s travails.
The skier who will compete next February on her home hill in Whistler entered the campaign reckoning she could compete for the overall World Cup downhill crown. And there was no reason to doubt her.
She’d had a breakthrough 2007-08 campaign after having to pay her own way back on the team the season before, scoring eight top-10 finishes, including her first victory in Aspen – and was ranked third in the downhill standings.
This season, Janyk had only one top 10 finish, an eighth in a super-G in St. Moritz in December. Her best downhill result was an 11th and she wound up 26th overall in the World Cup downhill standings.
“It was a tough season, but I’d definitely rather be going through it now than next year,” Janyk said. “It’s not an easy sport, but that’s why I love it so much is because of the challenge. You think you have it all figured out and then all of a sudden you take a big left-handed turn. As a group, I think we’ve done that a little bit.”
Kelly VanderBeek of Kitchener was the top Canadian in World Cup downhill points at 15th, while Emily Brydon of Fernie, B.C., was 16th. Janyk was 17th in the super-G standings, while Brydon was 20th and VanderBeek was 21st.
The rise of the team last year was a great story, one worthy of the attention it garnered. These were skiers who each had their own struggles and, in the case of Janyk and Brydon in particular, had been written off in many quarters. It was a masterful coaching job and a group of skiers who really came together to support one another.
They will need plenty of both again to write another comeback story next season.
“I think the fact we’re all still working well together is going to help us pull out of this quicker,” said Janyk.