Just like home as Canada’s Guay wins downhill race
KVITFJELL, Norway (AP) — It feels just like home for Canada’s Erik Guay when he races in Norway.
Guay won the fifth World Cup race of his career Saturday on one of his favorite courses in the resort of Kvitfjell. He clinched his second downhill win this season, finishing ahead of Frenchman Johan Clarey and Olympic champion Matthias Mayer of Austria.
Two of Guay’s career five wins and four of his 22 podiums have been in Kvitfjell, where there is a super-G scheduled for Sunday. Guay won it here in 2010.
“We’ve had a great relationship over the years,” Guay said. “Everything reminds me of Quebec and Canada, I feel comfortable when I come here. The landscape in general in Norway looks a lot like Quebec and the weather can be a lot like Quebec. It can be raining and warm, and also minus 25 and freezing cold.”
It was the 32-year-old Guay’s third career downhill win. He also won downhill earlier this season at the Italian resort of Val Gardena, where the 33-year-old Clarey was third.
“It’s just a track that suits me well,” Guay said. “It’s a real downhill track that follows your run. It’s got jumps, it’s got side-hills, technical sections. I think that’s what downhill’s all about.”
Conditions were overcast and a little foggy but unlike Friday’s downhill the rain stayed away. Guay had a time of 1 minute, 22.17 seconds to put him .35 ahead of Clarey — who secured a third career podium — and .57 quicker than Mayer.
“It’s difficult conditions, soft snow. I think you need a really well-balanced touch,” Guay said. “If you’re too aggressive or leaning in a little bit, it’s easy to lose (time).”
Meanwhile, it was the best result of Clarey’s career.
“It shows anything can happen, even late on. Better late than never,” Clarey said. “I’m not hugely confident at the moment and the Olympics were difficult for me to cope with mentally.”
Clarey had thought about retirement after the Sochi Games, where he did not finish the downhill and was 19th in super-G.
“This changes my ideas a little bit from a psychological point of view,” he said. “Even though my knee’s still pretty banged up.”
Despite already having an Olympic gold medal, the 23-year-old Mayer clinched his first career podium in World Cup downhill and only his third overall.
“I had a lot of things to do, with celebrating the Olympic victory back home. I hadn’t much time for me to be prepared,” Mayer said. “I can be happy with this result. It’s very difficult to be fast here, with the soft snow it’s not the best conditions.”
American Travis Ganong, who was third on Friday, narrowly missed out on another podium, finishing .62 back in fourth spot.
“I really thought I could (win), so I pushed a little harder and had a couple mistakes. I was able to make up a lot of time on the bottom and salvage fourth place,” said Ganong, who is having good late-season form after a respectable fifth-place finish in the downhill at the Olympics. “It’s really fun skiing right now. I’m having a good time and the results are coming.”
Olympic super-G champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who tied for the win Friday with Austrian Georg Streitberger, placed fifth.
“I made a couple of mistakes which I didn’t think I would make,” Jansrud said. “Fell on my inside ski a couple of times, I had to support myself on my hand.”
Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was tied for sixth with Switzerland’s Silvan Zurbriggen.
American Bode Miller, a bronze medalist in super-G at the Sochi Olympics last month, was eighth.