Alpine Canada in new colours

Canadian Alpine Ski Team racers will tackle the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill on Saturday in special-edition red and silver speed suits designed by sponsor Audi Canada.

Representatives from the Ajax, Ont.-based company were given the opportunity to create a unique look for world downhill champion Erik Guay and his teammates to wear in Kitzbühel, Austria, one of the most prestigious races on the World Cup circuit.

The classic-looking design, which features a Maple Leaf, uses eye-catching red and silver colours instead of the traditional alpine yellow. Red and silver are part of Audi’s colour scheme and they are the featured colours for the Audi FIS Ski World Cup.

“They put a lot of thought into the design and integrated their colours, but also the Canadian Maple Leaf. I like it,” said Guay, of Mont-Tremblant, Que. “This is a great idea and a cool way to promote our sponsors.”

Yoeri Geerits, Alpine Canada’s vice-president of marketing and partnerships, said the unique design – which will only be worn for the famous Hahnenkamm downhill – has generated extremely positive feedback from coaches and athletes.

“This is the first time Alpine Canada’s athletes have worn a custom race suit designed by a sponsor,” Geerits said. “We’re delighted that Audi Canada opted to unveil the suit in Kitzbühel, home to one of the world’s most famous and iconic ski races. Athletes and coaches love the design and the idea of a custom-made suit for this very special race.”

Jan Hudec, of Calgary, Alta., is preparing to race in his first ever Hahnenkamm downhill this weekend. Although he made his World Cup debut in 2002, injuries, race cancellations and other circumstances have prevented him from testing his skills on what is considered the most challenging track on the World Cup circuit.

“The suits are awesome,” Hudec said. “I am sure that they will generate a lot of extra attention, especially as people are not used to seeing us in different colours than the usual yellow.”

Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, B.C., who took his first run down Kitzbühel’s famous Streif course last year, said the new suits, “make this special event even more special.”

“We are delighted about the Canadian team’s idea to show its association with Audi through this unusual promotion,” said Mike Briscoe, Audi Canada’s director of marketing and product management. “The race suits in the Audi colours of red and silver will raise many eyebrows on the Streif. The weekend in Kitzbühel is one of the most important sport events for Audi – and now a genuine highlight richer.”

Custom-made suits will be designed for two other World Cup races this season. KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines, another of Alpine Canada’s key sponsors, will unveil a speed suit at the Jan. 28 downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Garmisch is one of Guay’s favourite hills and the site of his historic world championship victory in 2011. Canada’s racers will also wear a suit designed by Osisko Mining Corporation in the men’s downhill at the World Cup finals in Schladming, Austria, on March 14.