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Erik Guay closing in on Canadian skiing history

Erik Guay (Getty Images)Erik Guay has been dubbed as one of the handful of Canadian athletes to watch closely ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The 31-year-old Mont-Tremblant, Que., native is in his 14th year as a member of Canada’s national alpine ski team. Guay’s resume during that time is impressive - 19 World Cup podium finishes and two Olympic appearances (Turin in 2006 and of course, the 2010 Vancouver Games).

But before Guay can set his eyes on a podium finish in Sochi he must first focus on defending his title in Saturday’s men’s downhillat the world championships in Schaldming, Austria.

During a conference call with reporters this week, Guay said he felt good going into the training runs and Saturday’s race.

“I was really satisfied with my month of January. We had a good game plan,’’ he said. “I feel like I’m prepared. I know that know that it’s going to be different, special conditions here, but I’m looking forward to [it].”

However, after injuring his back during his first training run on Thursday, he voiced his displeasure with the downhill course.

He told the Associated Press:

“That’s ridiculous. Any course you should be able to push in the first training run and not have to worry about injuries like that.

“There’s a little bit of a takeoff,” said Guay, who called the rest of the Planai course “pretty fun.“As long as it’s a low flight and you land without big impact you can go 60, 70 metres and no issue — we have that at other places in the World Cup. It’s just the landing when it’s too flat that everything comes into your legs and your back as shock absorbers.”

There’s more than just another world championship on the line this weekend for the Canadian skier. His second-place finish at a World Cup downhill event last week put Guay in position to tie the Canadian record of 20 World Cup podium finishes currently held by Steve Podborski.

The 55-year-old Podborski is Canada’s chef de mission for the 2014 Sochi Games and also an Olympic bronze medalist, which he won at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. He’s best known as a member of the “Crazy Canucks” and says he’d be happy to see Guay tie and then eventually surpass him in the record books.

He told Lori Ewing of the Canadian Press:

"I want our guys to be better than we were,” Podborski said. “And so yes, I want Erik to beat me, I want him to beat all my records, I want him to keep on going and get them all knocked off . . . because that's what's supposed to happen.

"I want to be part of that solution. What it would do is lift our athletes up, lift them all up so we all get higher and better. Yes, I want Erik to beat that record. I want him to beat them all. I want him to beat them sooner than later. And then I want someone to come along and beat his records."

For Guay, Saturday is just another step towards making history.

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