Click for larger image
Fernie, BC's Emily Brydon raced her final World Cup downhill of the season on Wednesday, finishing 14th to top off a season on the circuit where she finished no worse than 25th in the downhill, and tied the record for the best Canadian performance at the CIBC Lake Louise Winterstart with a fourth-place finish.
Brydon, the lone Canadian to qualify for the downhill at the World Cup Finals where only the top-25 racers from each discipline are invited to compete, raced the course in a time of one minute, 46.84 seconds. Her result puts her 12th in the women's overall downhill standings for the 2004 World Cup season, beating her previous best ranking – 16th in 2001.
“It's a bit of a bittersweet season, really. It was a strong, consistent season for me which is a great step in my career – I wasn't a one-hit wonder, I was in there every race, challenging the best in the world. Being the 12th-best female downhiller in the world is nothing to be ashamed of. But on the other hand, I was so close to the podium so many times but made stupid little errors that cost me,” said the amicable 23-year-old whose mother Rosemary accepted the Harry Jerome Comeback of the Year Award from Sport BC on Tuesday on her daughter's behalf. Brydon suffered back-to-back knee injuries but now says she is pain-free and has regained the bulk of her confidence.
“I really don't think about my knees anymore. There's no pain there, so there's really no reason to think about it, except for silly little thoughts that creep in but I try to keep those out. I'm sure that in the back of my mind there are still little inhibitions that don't let me charge fully, but with more strong seasons, that will disappear too.”
Though a little disappointed that the women's course at Sestrieres will not be the same as the 2006 Olympic course – race organizers are building a new women's track – Brydon is enjoying the competition at this year's World Cup Finals.
“Today's race was okay – nothing special, but nothing disastrous. It's a super fun course, and today was a really fun race. So many downhills, especially for the women, are just so safe now – too many flats. But this course has lots of rolls, two big air, steep turns, lots of sidehill turns, and the speed is pretty reasonable. For everyone here, this is the real wind-down for the season. Everyone's more relaxed, and this is really what concludes our season, so it's always great to be a part of the Finals,” said Brydon.
It was Austrian Renate Goetschl who won the final downhill of the 2004 season, finishing in a time of 1:45.01. Swiss racer Sylviane Berthod was second in 1:45.36, while Isolde Kostner gave the home-crowed fans something to cheer about with her third-place finish (1:45.53).