Guay wins bronze medal in downhill; Norways Svindal takes gold

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. - Erik Guay feels like the pressure is off.
The skier from Mont-Tremblant, Que., raced down the Birds of Prey course to finish in one minute 44.20 seconds on Friday and collect his first World Cup medal this year, a bronze in downhill.
"It's great to have it in the bag now," Guay said in a conference call. "Nobody can say, 'You've been coming so close but you're not quite there."'
The 27-year-old was shut out of the medals last season, and hasn't reached a podium since March 15, 2007. But he said he never got down on himself.
"To be honest it didn't concern me too much, I wasn't losing any sleep over it or fretting over it at all," Guay said. "I knew it would come if the skiing was there, that's pretty much the bottom line.
"If the skiing's there and you're skiing well and comfortable, the podium finishes will come, it's just a matter of time."
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway took gold in 1:43.85 and Liechtenstein's Marco Buechel was second, .06 seconds behind.
Guay finished 10th in last week's opening World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alta., but he says he wasn't discouraged by the result.
"Last week I was just sort of finding my race legs," said Guay, who picked up the 10th podium finish of his career Friday. "It's tough always beginning of the season seeing where you stack up against the competition when you haven't been against them for six, seven months."
But Guay says he feels refreshed now - he has the medal to prove it.
"This summer, I felt healthy all through the summer. I felt ready heading into Lake Louise.
"It's just good to confirm it with a podium finish here."
Meanwhile, Svindal had a belly full of nerves.
Wary of the slope where he had a serious spill, the Norwegian used fear to fuel himself down the mountain Friday in winning a World Cup downhill a year after the crash ended his season.
"I knew I was going to be nervous so I figured there's no point in acting tough and pretending you're not nervous," Svindal said. "If you admit it, then you can work on it. That's a better strategy than pretending like you're Superman because none of us really are."
The Americans had trouble on the fast course. Bode Miller wiped out after clipping his left ski on a gate, Marco Sullivan wound up too wide on a turn burning by a gate and Andrew Weibrecht flew into the air before becoming ensnared in protective fencing. He suffered only a bloody nose.
Steven Nyman turned in the top U.S. finish, seventh. It breaks a string of five straight podium finishes by the Americans in the downhill at this event.
Friday's race was a psychological test for Svindal, who broke his nose and cheekbone in last year's training run. He may have fractured a few ribs as well, but he's not completely sure about that, and didn't want to ask.
The 13-centimetre laceration on his left buttock, though, had doctors so concerned they went into his stomach to make sure everything internally was still intact.
"Everything was good so they put the stuff back in there and closed it up," he said, smiling.
He spent two weeks healing in a Vail hospital, a ski slope visible from his window. That only served as motivation. Three months after the accident, Svindal was back on skis, lightly cruising down the slopes.
Now, he's a World Cup winner again.
"Today he was able to throw down and attack like he did in the past, like he did last year before his injury," Guay said.- With files from The Associated Press

Organizations: Vail hospital, The Associated Press

Geographic location: BEAVER CREEK, Mont-Tremblant, Lake Louise Norway U.S.

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