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Janyk tops Aspen downhill

Chris FreudVail CO, Colorado
Britt Janyk, right, of Canada, winner of the World Cup downhill, pours champagne into the mouth of her teammate Kelly Vanderbeek as they celebrate on the podium after the ski race Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007, in Aspen, Colo. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
AP | AP

ASPEN – The Janyks like Colorado.Last year, Michael Janyk earned his first podium, a second at the Birds of Prey slalom, in Beaver Creek.On Saturday, his sister Britt did him one better, earning her first World Cup win in Saturday’s Winternational downhill in Aspen. With the 100 points for the victory, Janyk vaulted to the top of the women’s downhill standings, earning the red bib given to the leader of a discipline.”It was awesome,” she said. “Last year in Beaver Creek, he put the red bib (for slalom) on for the first time, and this year, I’ve got it on for the first time here in Colorado. It’s a lucky spot for the Janyks, I guess.”The Canadian women are separating themselves from their male counterparts in one respect – no cowboy hats for the ladies in the finish area.”We’re trying to establish the Canadian cowgirls,” Janyk said with a plastic tiara perched on her head. “We don’t need the cowboy hats. We’re going with the tiaras.”Janyk finished in 1 minute, 14.17 seconds – organizers moved the start of the downhill down to the super-G location because of weather. Austria’s Marlies Schild (1:14.59) and Renate Goetshl (1:14.63) took second and third, respectively.Vail’s Lindsey Vonn just missed the podium by five-hundredths of a second in fourth. Switzerland’s Martina Schild rounded out the top five in 1:14.70.

Given that more than 3 feet of snow pounded Aspen in the past few days, it was surprising that the ladies were able to race Saturday. As it turned out, with new snow and a fog developing on the upper part of the course, the jury called the race after 33 racers had gone.While there were murmurs of a protest, it was very clear that results would not change no matter how many skiers were left. The last two skiers to finish were more than 2 seconds off Janyk’s pace.Going early was a distinct advantage. Marlies Schild drew the No. 1 bib and laid down a pristine run.”It was a very good number because it was not so bumpy like the higher numbers,” she said. “Nobody had a crash before me. It’s really great. I’m really happy with it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”She should be anticipating today’s 10 a.m. slalom. Schild is much more of a technical skier, with just one downhill podium to her name before Saturday.

While others were having problems with the snow and the light, Janyk was right at home with the conditions.”To be quite honest, there really weren’t any nerves,” Janyk said. “I was so excited to race. We had a great morning of powder skiing (Friday), and I feel quite comfortable in these kind of conditions. I grew up skiing on the West Coast, and these are the kind of conditions I love.”Janyk was in a good state of mind after Friday’s postponement, doing what most did in Aspen – catching some powder and hitting the hot tub before noon. Emphasizing that it was “important to turn things off,” she started refocusing around 3 p.m. Friday on Saturday’s race.She also had some confidence coming in here, having taken third at Lake Louise.”it just gave me more confidence and trust in my skiing,” Janyk said. “So when I leave the start, my mind is clear and I focus on what I need to do on the course, where I need to be the fastest. That’s it. Everything else stops, moves out.”Running sixth, she hammered the Aztec and Strawpile sections of the course, places that caught others, and vaulted into the hot seat for good.”Those are some pretty key spots to carry your speed, and I think I nailed those sections,” she said.And then the Janyk family phone tree started to light up.”(Michael is) over in Europe right now,” Britt said. “I called my mom already, and he had already called saying that he saw the run and he was pumped.”



While Janyk was returning the favor by winning Saturday’s downhill after Vonn won up north last weekend, another major drama played out in the heart of the order. Austria’s Alexandra Meissnitzer hit a hole in the course and crashed into the A netting. The team’s coaching staff announced that Meissnitzer sustained a bone bruise in her right knee.While the Austrian, who had two wins at Vail ’99 as a part of her star-studded career, escaped major injury, there was a 20-minute hold on the course, which did not help improve the conditions of the track.That made Goetschl’s run for third seem all the more impressive. She was the 20th racer down the hill after teammate Nicole Hosp – and eventually three other Austrians – withdrew.”I’m really happy for me because it was a really tough race,” Goetschl said. “It was a bad piste. It was like an FIS race with a 150 number. It was really rough.”As if to illustrate that point, France’s Anne-Sophie Barthet, the last racer to go before it was called, had a severe crash, dislocating her knee.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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