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Ski team having a rough season

As he peers through falling snow and overcast skies at the world alpineski championships, the man charged with helping Canada deliver medalsat the 2010 Winter Olympics swears he can still see some sunshine.

As he peers through falling snow and overcast skies at the world alpine ski championships, the man charged with helping Canada deliver medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics swears he can still see some sunshine.

Max Gartner, Alpine Canada chief of athletics, is aware that this hasn’t been a stellar campaign so far for the Canadian team, particularly on the women’s speed side where they excelled last year but have been shut out from the podium so far.

In fact, it looks like Canada will be hard pressed to grab a medal at the worlds, which begin today with the women’s super-G in Val d’Isere, France, and run through Feb. 15.

The Speed Queens, the moniker that Britt Janyk, Emily Brydon and Kelly VanderBeek coined for themselves last season when they earned seven podiums, are hurting right now and are also a bit out of sync.

VanderBeek popped both shoulders out in a crash in Italy just over a week ago, while Brydon also crashed there and has been battling the flu. Janyk has been healthy, but nowhere near as sharp as last season when she was third in the World Cup downhill standings. She has one top-10 result in seven speed races this season.

“Our girls are a little banged up,” said Gartner, in a telephone interview from France. “Not exactly the best preparation going into here.”

Canada’s best chance is likely to come in the men’s super-G with Erik Guay and John Kucera.

But Gartner remains optimistic about the 2010 Games. He points to the return of downhiller Jan Hudec, who finished eighth in his first race back from knee surgery in Switzerland. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Guay and Kucera have each been on the podium this season.

Gartner also believes the men’s slalom team, headed by Michael Janyk, has taken a big step forward.

“I still think we have the weapons to do what we want to do,” he said. “Our target is still to win three to four medals there (in 2010) and I still think we can do that.”

 
 
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