Guay back for Lake Louise World Cup

Former world downhill champion Erik Guay is set to make his return from injury at the Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup later this month as Canadian racers try to make the most of home snow advantage and punch their tickets to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

Guay, of Mont-Tremblant, has made a swift recovery from knee surgery and is one of five Canadian Cowboys who could be pushing for the podium in the first World Cup downhill and super-G races of the 2013-14 season, which will be held Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the picturesque Lake Louise ski resort west of Calgary, Alta.

With qualification for nomination to Canada’s Olympic team up for grabs, there’s a lot on the line for perennial contenders Guay, Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Jan Hudec – all of whom have previously been on the podium at Lake Louise – as well as talented youngsters including Ben Thomsen and Morgan Pridy.

A series of availabilities will be held next week to give members of the media a chance to capture B-roll of training. Interviews can also be conducted at a press conference in Calgary on Nov. 22.

“My knee feels really good and the plan is to start in Lake Louise,” said Guay, who has 19 career World Cup podiums – one short of the Canadian record for men set by Crazy Canuck legend Steve Podborksi.

“The skiing is there already. With only a few days of super-G training I was back in the times and competitive. I think that comes from experience, but I know I still have some work to do. When you are coming back from injury it always depends on how your body reacts but my knee feels solid. My back has been bothering me but I am managing it and as long as it doesn’t flare up I will start in Lake Louise.”

Guay, who won the super-G Crystal Globe in 2010 and has been agonizingly close to a first Olympic medal, with a fourth-place finish in 2006 and two fifths in 2010, had surgery in July after originally injuring his knee in May. Guay, whose wife Karen is expecting their third child in March, had two World Cup podiums last season and can all but secure his spot for Sochi with a top-10 finish. Qualification for nomination to Canada’s Olympic team is dependent on two top-12 results, including at least one from the first half of this season. Canadian racers can also qualify with a single top-five result from the 2013-14 season.

Canadian Alpine Ski Team racers expected to be present at Nakiska Ski Area next week for training include Guay, Osborne-Paradis (Vancouver, B.C.), Hudec (Calgary, Alta.), Thomsen (Invermere, B.C.), Morgan and Conrad Pridy (Whistler, B.C.), John Kucera (Calgary), Robbie Dixon (Whistler), Jeffrey Frisch (Mont-Tremblant), and Dustin Cook (Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que.).

The Canadian Cowboys refers to an exclusive group of modern day racers who have had top-three finishes in World Cup, world championship or Olympic races. There are six active Cowboys – Guay, Osborne-Paradis, Hudec, Kucera, Thomsen and slalom skier Mike Janyk. François Bourque, the other member of the Cowboys, retired from ski racing in 2012.