The world cup will ride again in Lake Louise, as FIS gave the green light for the Ladies’ World Cup, Dec. 2-4.
Warm temperatures and a lack of snow cancelled the men’s race last week, however, the ski hill has seen heavy snowfall since then. The weekend will kick off with downhill races on Dec. 2 and 3, followed by the super-G race on Dec. 4.
Reigning champion Lindsay Vonn will miss the weekend due to a broken arm, so the field is open for a new contender to take the Lake Louise crown.
Kelly Vanderbeek, an Alpine Canada alumnus who took bronze in the Lake Louise super-G in 2006, said since coverage was so strong for the cancellation of the men’s race, she hopes there will be added attention on the women’s race.
Much ink was spilled over how awful it was to lose the men’s race, so now is the time to embrace the women’s race, Vanderbeek said, which tends to receive a lower profile.
“It should be a shot in the arm as people realize we have something special. It’s a case of you don’t know what you have until you lose it,” Vanderbeek said.
Vanderbeek said it’s also a great time to thank volunteers and organizers, who worked tirelessly to provide a great event, which is well respected throughout the ski community.
Without the men’s race, and the world cup ski cross race move to Blue Mountain, Ont., the women should generate more room in the spotlight. Canada is expected to field a young speed team in Lake Louise, and Vanderbeek said a home world cup is imperative to their development.
“It’s massive. It’s massive for the financial side, of course, but also for the emotional side for our country. Sport can chew you up, but there is a comfort zone when you perform in your own country,” she said.
“Every volunteer knows your name and is cheering for you. Having that blanket of support – it’s a non-quantifiable aspect – is very real and special. As someone who went through it as an athlete, hearing that home crowd cheering for you, you need that.”
Canada will not announce its women’s starters until next week, however, there is a good chance skiers such as Marie-Michelle Gagnon and Val Grenier will race for their country.
Canada hasn’t had a women’s champion at Lake Louise, although Vanderbeek, Britt Janyk and Emily Brydon have all earned medals. Larissa Yurkiw came close in 2014 with a fourth-place finish in the downhill.
The race is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m., Friday (Dec. 2).