sport

Canadian cycling success stories abound

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Big results coming in from Canadian cyclists around the globe. The photo below is courtesy of Garmin-Transitions Pro Cycling Team’s flickr photostream. Throughout the racing and training seasons they post great new photos of their riders.


Posted By JOHN SWART

Did you know Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria, B.C., raced to second place April 19 at the 257-kilometre Amstel Gold Race, one of the three prestigious races of the famous Ardennes Classics? That’s one podium place better than local great Steve Bauer ever achieved, and equal to Lance Armstrong’s best result there.

It wasn’t a surprise, as Hesjedal won Stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana Grand Tour in 2009, and the Stage 1 team time trial in the 2008 Giro d’Italia.

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How about Velodrome track racing? Zack Bell of Yukon won gold medals in the points race and scratch race at the Jan. 24t UCI World Cup of Track Cycling in Beijing. Canadian women won bronze in team pursuit, proving their gold-medal performance in the previous World Cup (Cali, Columbia) wasn’t a fluke.

Following the Trinidad Beacon Cycling Festival, where our Canadian track racing team won numerous podium positions, cycling reporter Daniele Defranceschi stated: “The people in Trinidad (international racers) are saying this is the best they have seen Canadians ride …… since the days of Gord Singleton. A very nice compliment indeed.”

Steve Bauer’s 2010 Team Spidertech powered by Planet Energy is our first ever Canadian UCI Continental road race squad. Impressive results in the grueling 10 day 2010 Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay, including Canadian Martin Gilbert’s two stage wins, recently earned Bauer’s team entry into the Amgen Tour of California, America’s biggest international stage race.

I could go on for pages with success stories Canadian cyclists have accumulated already in 2010.

Entire article here.

Canada’s Connaughton 2nd at Osaka event

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Last Updated: Saturday, May 8

Charlottetown’s Jared Connaughton, seen in 2009, finished second in Osaka on Saturday. (Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images)
Canadian Jared Connaughton earned the most impressive result of his senior athletics career on Saturday in Japan, finishing second in the 200 metres at the Osaka Grand Prix.

The Charlottetown native, who reached the semifinals at the distance in the Beijing Olympics, crossed the line 20.61 seconds. The 24-year-old trailed only Michael Rodgers of the United States, whose time was 20.55.

Two-time world championships medallist Perdita Felicien of Pickering, Ont., finished third in the 100 metre hurdles with a time of 13.03. American Virginia Powell-Crawford ran 12.76 to take the race, with Russia’s Tetyana Dektyareva in second at 12.88.

Two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica won the women’s 100 metres.
Campbell-Brown finished in 11.02 seconds. Japan’s Chisato Fukushima was second with a time of 11.27 while Australia’s Melissa Breen was third in 11.47.

Campbell-Brown, who won gold in the women’s 200 in Beijing and Athens, quickly make up ground to finish comfortably ahead of Fukushima.

“I didn’t get the start I wanted,” Campbell-Brown said. “I didn’t execute the way I wanted but am happy to get the win. It’s always good to come back to Osaka.”

Read entire article here.

Hesjedal second in prestigious Amstel Gold race

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Talk of Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal being moved up from support rider to more of an attacking role because of his success this past season.

BY CLEVE DHEENSAW, VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST APRIL 19, 2010 COMMENTS (2)

VICTORIA — Victoria cyclist Ryder Hesjedal wasn’t expecting to take such a long route to the podium Sunday in the prestigious Amstel Gold race at Valkenburg, Netherlands.

With the Icelandic volcano curtailing flights over northern Europe, he was forced to drive 1,300 kilometres from his Garmin-Transitions team’s base in Girona, Spain, to Valkenburg, located near the Dutch border with Germany.

So a scuttled one-and-a-half-hour hop by plane became a 13-hour car ride.

But it was worth it as Hesjedal placed second in the 257-kilometre race in six hours 22 minutes 56 seconds. He was just two seconds behind winner Philippe Gilbert of Belgium with Enrico Gasparotto of Italy third.

“It’s unbelievable to be second in one of the top races on the calendar,” said Hesjedal, by phone Monday from the Netherlands.

“This is among the top of the classic one-day races and it’s like a dream to be on the podium.”

The silver medal may have been tempered by the fact 13 of the 192 scheduled racers couldn’t make it to the race because of the European no-fly situation — including Lance Armstrong, Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins, Carlos Sastre and Alejandro Valverde — but you can only race against who is there and there is no diminishing what Hesjedal achieved.

Photograph by: Jerry Lampen, Reuters
The result continued Hesjedal’s steely climb up the pro racing ladder.

In 2008 and 2009 he became only the fourth Canadian to ride in the Tour de France and the first in over a decade. He capped last summer by becoming the first Canadian to win a stage in the Tour of Spain, which with the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia comprise the Grand Tour of pro cycling. It was the first Grand Tour stage victory by a Canadian since Steve Bauer of Fenwick, Ont., in the 1988 Tour de France and followed up a second-place Tour of Spain stage finish by Hesjedal the week before.

Several cycling commentators are predicting Hesjedal to be elevated from support rider to more of an attacking role with the Garmin-Transitions team.

“It takes time to make an impact in pro cycling and things are going well in that regard,” said the 29-year-old Hesjedal.

Read entire article here.

McKeever strikes gold for Canada

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After the historic lost opportunity for Brian McKeever to race at the 2010 Olympics, becoming the first athlete ever to compete in both Olympic and Paralympic games, this is a very sweet result. A dominant victory to take some of the sting away from the disappointment from Whistler.

Andy Clark, Reuters Brian McKeever, left, claimed gold--Canada's first in the visually impaired 20-kilometre cross country freestyle event.

Paralympic Games: ‘It couldn’t fall to a more worthy person’
Terry Bell, Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WHISTLER – The 2008 Olympics in Beijing had Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. The 2010 Olympics had Lindsay Vonn and a rather remarkable goal by Sidney Crosby.

The 2010 Winter Paralympics have Brian and Robin McKeever.

Brian McKeever, the 30-year-old legally blind Paralympic cross country skier/ biathlete from Canmore, Alta., is a major star at these Games, his star rising even higher after he had qualified for the Canadian Olympic cross-country team only to be denied a chance to compete by the team’s coaching staff.

Yesterday morning at Whistler Olympic Park, he laced up his boots and with the help of his brother Robin, who acts as his guide, won the men’s 20-kilometre freestyle visually impaired event . The gold medal is Canada’s first at these Games. As this is the first time Canada has hosted the Winter Paralympics, it also marks the first winter gold on Canadian soil.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/story.html?id=2686762#ixzz0iP5FPIu4

Erik Guay wins GAP Super G and World Cup title

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Phenomenal achievement for Erik! This is huge news. More later.

Photograph by: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Guay wins final race and super-G cup
Thu Mar 11, 2010
By Brian Homewood

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Reuters) – Canada’s Erik Guay won the final super-G of the season to snatch the Alpine ski World Cup title on Thursday.

Guay leapfrogged Michael Walchhofer and Aksel Lund Svindal in the standings after a dramatic finale on a snowy, foggy day to become the first Canadian to win a World Cup title since Steve Podborski was joint downhill champion with Switzerland’s Peter Mueller in 1982.

Read the entire article here.

Erik Guay takes Kvitfjell Super-G

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Free of the super hype surrounding Whistler and the Olympic races there, Guay took his place at the top of the podium today in Kvitfjell, Norway. As he said in interviews, he was .03 off the podium in Whistler and won today by .02. Ridiculously tight results. Other Canadians: Manny Osborne-Paradis finished 11th and Jan Hudec, 17th.

I’d like to see Erik bring his momentum to the World Cup finals in Garmisch-Partenkirchen next week. Sentimental location for me, as that was where I taught skiing for a couple of seasons.

Erik Guay kept his slim hopes of claiming the men’s World Cup super-G title alive by taking victory in the event at Kvitfjell.

The Canadian clocked a time of one minute 31.95 seconds to claim his second ever World Cup race win and first in super-G.

Michael Walchhofer missed out on his chance to take an unassailable lead in the standings as the Austrian could only manage a sixth-placed finish.

Walchhofer’s compatriot Hannes Reichelt trailed Guay home by a mere 0.02 seconds.

Olympic star Aksel Lund Svindal, riding on home snow in Norway, shared third place with Swiss Tobias Gruenenfelder.

The result leaves Svindal 46 points behind Walchhofer in the super-G standings, with Guay a further 23 points adrift in third place.

Read the rest of this entry »

Men’s relay pulls off 4th place in elite field

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No, it’s not a medal, but the breakthrough for Canadian men’s XC skiing is phenomenal. In Norway, this relay is regarded as THE prestige event. The cheers that erupted when Bjørn Dæhlie crossed the finish line 2nd in Lillehammer in 1994, 1st in Nagano in 1998, and likely when Petter Northug left his opposition in his wake in the final sprint today, would be deafening. For Canada to be in the top 4 in this kind of company is unprecedented. Another result to savour. Congrats to Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey.

Photograph by: Peter J. Thompson, Canwest News Service

Cross-country: Canadian men’s team achieves new benchmarks
BY MIKE BEAMISH, VANCOUVER SUN
FEBRUARY 22, 2010

WHISTLER — From eighth to fifth, and now fourth: In successive races, the Canadian men’s cross-country ski team has set new benchmarks for achievement in the Winter Olympic Games.

Alex Harvey of Ste-Ferreol Des Neiges, Que., and Devon Kershaw of Canmore, Alta., finished fourth in today’s men’s team sprint at Whistler Olympic Park, two days after Ivan Babikov of Canmore was fifth in the 30K pursuit and a week following Babikov’s eighth-place result in the 15K. Before the Vancouver-Whistler Games, Canada’s highest finish in the history of men’s Olympic cross-country competition was Pierre Harvey’s 14th, at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Today’s result sets up Canada for a medal possibility in Wednesday’s 4×10-kilometre relay. The four-man Canadian team — Babikov, Harvey, Kershaw and Geroge Grey — are considered stronger distance skiers than sprinters.

Read the entire article here.

Canadian XC sprint relay teams through to finals

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Both the men’s and women’s teams have made it through to the XC relay sprint finals.

Getty Images

Men’s semis results. The men finished 4th.

Women’s semis results. The women finished 7th.

Majdic won bronze in XC sprint despite broken ribs, collapsed lung

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This is the most remarkable story of the Olympics to date. It’s unimaginable how a skier could compete at all in a sprint event like this, let alone win a bronze medal.

Posted by Meri-Jo Borzilleri

Turns out, Petra Majdic was more than just bruised when she won bronze in the individual classical sprint on Wednesday.

The Slovenian cross-country star was found to have broken four ribs and suffered a collapsed lung when she fell off course during a training run just before the race.

Majdic’s injuries will end not only her Olympics but her season. She has been hospitalized since the accident, and is not permitted to fly home for at least a week.

Her national team has filed a protest with Olympic organizers that there should have been more protection where she tumbled off the course, falling about 10 feet and onto some rocks.

Majdic, the world’s top-ranked sprinter, did not know how badly she was hurt until after the race.

Amazingly, she managed to capture a medal in the event that requires major lung exertion and hard poling by both arms and torso. In a sprint, skiers race in a small pack and go all out for a total four 1.4-kilometer loops on a hilly, technical course.

Majdic appeared in severe pain, crumpling each of the four times she crossed the finish. Her agony was so apparent that while on course, coaches from rival nations cheered her on, she said.

Read the entire article here.

History made by Canada’s XC skiers

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Amazing results from the Canadian trio of Babikov, Grey and Harvey.

Three skiers in the top nine. Just fantastic!

Canada's George Grey, right, comes to the aid of an exhausted Ivan Babikov after the pursuit on Saturday. (Javier Soriano/Getty Images)

Canada was the only country with three skiers in the top 10.

Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., led the way, just 9.1 seconds back in fifth place.

National team veteran George Grey of Rossland, B.C., was eighth in 1:15.32, immediately followed by Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-nieges, Que., in ninth place.

Harvey was 11 seconds behind Grey.

Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont. was 16th at 1:16.23.6. A total of 64 from around the world entered the competition.

The Canadians took turns flirting with the lead pack. Grey and Babikov were sitting sixth and seventh respectively at the 22.5k mark, with Harvey overtaking them for a while.

Canadian men have never reached the Olympic podium, but the performance was cause for hope.

To put it into perspective, the top trio of Canadians finished ahead of previous Olympic medallists Petter Northug of Norway, Dario Cologna of Switzerland and Pietro Piller Cotter of Italy.

Disappointment

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Real disappointment from the Canadian Alpine Ski team. No one can be more disappointed that Manuel Osborne-Paradis. His Olympics are now over.

Do they have the skiers to redeem themselves in the remaining non-speed events?

Over the past two years, Osborne-Paradis has done his best to downplay the Games, at one point saying he would rather win the overall World Cup skiing title than an Olympic gold. In the lead-up to Vancouver, countless reporters asked him how he was going to handle the pressure of skiing in front of hometown fans. His answer was always the same: I’ll treat it like every other event. This afternoon, standing in front of reporters yet again—his medal hopes dashed—he was asked whether the pressure finally got to him. After a long pause, he answered this way: “I liked the pressure. I liked the fact that people’s eyes were on me and wanted me to do well, because I think I’ve always done better like that. The expectations push you harder. I liked it. There was a lot of it here, and it was more than we’ve ever had, but I don’t think I succumbed to anything. I think it was just a good opportunity, and it was an opportunity lost.”

Do Canadians have a right to be disappointed, not only in you, but the rest of your teammates? “They have a reason to be disappointed,” he said. “Everybody has a reason to be disappointed. That’s what the expectations were—and that was our expectation, too.”

Does it get better than speed skating gold?

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Only skiing gold would be better.

Christine Nesbitt’s gold has been the highlight of the Games so far for me. This medal will resonate like no other with the nations that founded the Winter Olympic Games. And yes, that matters in the world of Olympic competition. See the orange Dutch uniforms on either side of her? That colour composition will matter to the Dutch, the Norwegians, the Germans, and to all the other countries who value the tradional core sports of the Games so highly.

Congrats to Chrstine!

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

Of the seven medals won by Canadians thus far, five have been won by women, including two of the three gold medals.

You can discuss among yourselves the significance of those numbers. But, for the Canadian Olympic Committee, it means any thought of owning the podium is inexorably tied up with the XX-chromosome set.

“They’re fierce competitors,” said Marcel Lacroix, the Canadian speedskating coach who works with Nesbitt specifically and Kristina Groves, Clara Hughes and others generally. “They’re going for the kill. Yeah, they’re girls and all that.

“But you know what? Deep down inside they want to win as much as the guys. Put a hockey stick in their hands and I can guarantee they’re going to go into the corners and plow someone. That’s how bad they want to win.”

And in Nesbitt’s mind, that’s how she won.

Vancouver Sun

“Canadians should lighten up over the Winter Olympics – Britain is next”

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Opinion piece in the Guardian, the paper that’s leading the critical charge against the Vancouver Games. Is ridicule really part of the Olympic ideal? If so, Stephen Colbert’s arrival in Vancouver should be the difference maker for us all. At least he’s funny!

Malfunctioning ice penises: Vancouver 2010 opening ceremony. Photo: Sandra Behne/Bongarts/Getty Images

Vancouver needs to stop being so touchy about criticism of the 2010 Games. Ridicule is all part of the Olympic ideal

“Piss off Brits,” concludes a furious email typical of the Guardian’s Vancouver Olympics mailbag, “and stop producing so many ugly women.”

“I am deeply disappointed at the tone of this article,” fumes a response to my colleague Martin Kelner’s intentionally amusing article about the unintentionally amusing opening ceremony, “and the tone of many Brits or expat Brits enjoying the hospitality of our country.” To which the only appropriate reply is: do lighten up, Canada! Sorry for coming over all capital letters about it, but Olympic hosts are SUPPOSED to be teased. You basically pay billions of dollars for the world to laugh at you. Deal with it.

It’s not like the merriment gets in the way of the sport. It’s the après-sport, if you will – something that happens around the edges, but in its way as much a part of every Games fortnight as the competition itself. Treating anything reverently bar the sport is creepy. Even the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron de Coubertin, appeared to tacitly understand that the Games were war by other means, for all their facile message of world peace.

This is why Australian comedians Roy and HG scored such a hit with their nightly TV show during the Sydney Games, and it is why Vancouver is made for the latest stunt from the brilliant Steven Colbert, whose gift for debunking sacred cultural events is becoming second to none.

Read the whole article here.

Brunt: A heartbreaking imbalance of risk and reward

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Insightful article by Stephen Brunt on Manny Osborne-Paradis’ tough run today. Truth be told, it was a wild assault on his home course and in the end he couldn’t hold the speed and the aggressive approach he took all the way through to the end. If ever an athlete showed that you can want something too much, Osborne-Paradis did that today.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Globe and Mail
By Stephen Brunt, Monday, February 15, 2010 9:15 PM ET

There are different ways to ski a race, even for the very best in the world.

Everyone wants to be on the top of the podium, but anyone who lays it out every time, who forces the issue no matter what the circumstances, isn’t going to survive long in this dangerous game. All kinds of factors come into play, weather and hill preferences, physical condition and nerve.

So some days, they’re skiing with contending in mind, some days they’re skiing only to survive.

And sometimes – for the champions, most of the time – everything comes together in a perfect balance of risk and reward, and the only thought is to get to the bottom first, the only goal is to win.

For almost all of this World Cup season and the second half of the last, Manuel Osborne-Paradis has been in that happy place where his confidence and abilities are in a parallel crest. There wasn’t a race he couldn’t win, and he knew it.

Coming home to Whistler for the Olympic Games downhill, to the mountain where he learned the sport, coming into a situation with wild, unpredictable weather, where he knew so much more about the hill than his competition, there would obviously be no holding back.

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Osborne-Paradis was .12 seconds back of Defago’s time at the first interval, and had pulled even with him by the second. The crowd at the finish erupted when the numbers flashed on the big screen.

Al CHAREST/QMI AGENCY
But at nearly that same moment, heading into Coaches Corners, he made a mistake that slipped by in an instant.

“I had the ski fully loaded,” he said afterwards. “You go right into the dark (shadows) there, and I just couldn’t see some of the bumps, and it almost high sided me over”

In real time, it didn’t look like much, but it was enough. The speed lost in that corner killed Osborne-Paradis – who is normally a great glider – in the flats. His times slipped farther and farther behind Defago’s, and by the finish, he was 1.13 seconds – an eternity – back, which would eventually leave him in 17th place.

“One turn blew my whole race,” Osborne-Paradis said.

Read the entire article here.

Best of luck to the whole team in the upcoming Super G!

Alexandre Bilodeau wins historic first gold!!

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Canada breaks the home soil Gold medal drought. The dedication he has shown to his brother is what makes this so meaningful. Congratulations Alex!!

Canadian Press

Bilodeau’s older brother, Frederic, who has cerebral palsy, was at the finish line and cheering wildly for his younger sibling. Bilodeau was close to tears when he spoke to CTV about his brother and his family.

“A lot,” he said when asked how much of his historic medal belongs to Frederic. “It’s really getting me right now. My brother is my inspiration. Growing up with handicapped people puts everything back in perspective and he taught me so many things in life. My parents did, too.”

His father Serge Bilodeau says he knew right away that Alex’s run was a winner.

“It is not possible to describe, but I knew it before. I knew it was the best. I have followed the sport for 12 years. I know the sport so well and I knew when he crossed the finish line that it was the best run and no one could beat it.”

Read the entire article here.

2010 Olympics luge track will reopen

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Article by Charlie Smith

Vanoc and the International Luge Federation have announced that the Olympic luge track will reopen in Whistler on Saturday (February 13) after the walls are raised at the exit of curve 16.

In addition, Vanoc and the federation have announce “a change in the ice profile” at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

There will be two men’s training runs earlier in the day, followed by competition beginning at 5 p.m.

Georgia athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili died today following an accident in the final corner during a training run.

The federation conducted an investigation and concluded that Kumaritashvili “came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into curve 16”.

“This resulted in a late entrance into curve 16 and although the athlete worked to correct the problem he eventually lost control of the sled resulting in the tragic accident,” the federation stated in the joint statement.

The investigation concluded that there was “no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track”.

Georgia Straight

Barely covered at Cypress

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Below I posted a photo showing the snowless state of Cypress Mountain these days. This shot is what the Olympic moguls run looks like just below that grass-covered peak.

Photograph by: Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

Boxing Roo to stay!

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I love the stand our Mayor took on this issue. From facebook:

Gregor Robertson

glad the aussie team flag will fly at olympic village – no need to make room for it on city hall now!

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The giant boxing kangaroo flag will continue to fly in the athletes’ village in Vancouver after Australian Olympic bosses reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC wanted it removed but Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates says he has reached a compromise and it can now stay in place for the duration of the Winter Olympic Games.

“But we will need to register the boxing kangaroo with the IOC as the third identification we have,” he said.

While it is already an Australian Olympic trademark, the boxing kangaroo will now be registered with the IOC along with Australia’s national flag and the coat of arms.

The IOC initially asked the Australian team to take down the banner because it was deemed too commercial.

Read the whole article here.

When the temperature hits 13C in the city

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This is what Cypress Mountain’s non-Olympic runs looked like on February 6. That’s what the snowcross and freestyle organizers are up against. Remember that when you see the white runs they compete on during the Games. Today it was sunny and 13 degrees celsius in downtown Vancouver. Usually there’s a 6-8 degree swing between temperatures in the city and temperatures on the city’s north shore peaks. Hard to keep snow from melting when the temperatures have been consistently a few degrees above freezing.

Alpine Canada sends 19 to Whistler

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Julien Cousineau, an Olympian after a spectacular 5th in Schladming last weekend

Named to the team today are:

WOMEN

• Brigitte Acton, Mont Tremblant, Que.
• Emily Brydon, Fernie, B.C.
• Marie-Michele Gagnon, Lac Etchemin, Que.
• Anna Goodman, Montreal
• Britt Janyk, Whistler, B.C.
• Shona Rubens, Canmore, Alta.
• Erin Mielzynski, Guelph, Ont.

MEN

• Julien Cousineau, Lachute, Que.
• Robbie Dixon, Whistler
• Jeffrey Frisch, Mont Tremblant
• Erik Guay, Mont Tremblant
• Louis-Pierre Helie, Berthierville, Que.
• Jan Hudec, Calgary
• Michael Janyk, Whistler
• Tyler Nella, Toronto
• Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Invermere, B.C.
• Ryan Semple, Mont Tremblant
• Brad Spence, Calgary
• Trevor White, Calgary