Erik Guay didn’t expect to find himself atop the leaderboard but that’s exactly where the most decorated member of the Canadian Cowboys was sitting following Wednesday’s first downhill training run at the Lake Louise Alpine World Cup.

Guay, who has 19 career World Cup podiums and needs one more to tie Crazy Canucks legend Steve Podborksi’s Canadian record of 20 for a male alpine skier, started 16th and clocked a time of one minute, 50 seconds. He joked that he was hoping to ease into his return to racing by enjoying a smooth run down the track, but in near-perfect conditions he found himself confronted with a track that was fast and bone-rattling in places.

Further training runs are scheduled for Friday ahead of Saturday’s World Cup downhill and Sunday’s super-G.

The 2011 world downhill champion from Mont-Tremblant, Que., only returned to snow last month after undergoing knee surgery but he set the pace on a course many described as choppy but unusually fast ahead of the first speed races of the 2013-14 Audi FIS World Cup season.

“I wanted to go hard, but I’m surprised I’m fast. I didn’t think I would be winning the run,” said Guay, who had microfracture surgery on his left knee in July. “There’s lots of things happening out there, but it’s one of those things where it’s the start of the season and you don’t know whether you’re going to be quick or not. There’s no way of telling.”

Manuel Osborne-Paradis, of Vancouver, B.C., was sixth and Jan Hudec, of Calgary, Alta., was 10th to give Canada three racers in the top 10.

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Photo of Erik Guay by Malcolm Carmichael courtesy of Alpine Canada.


SnowOnline Editor: Lori Knowles