Fernie, BC's Emily Brydon was crowned the 2004 women's downhill champion at the 2004 Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships at Le Massif on Friday, marking the second national DH title for the 23-year-old racer.

“I ski much smarter now. You can always improve, but one big difference is now I don't let different conditions affect me,” said Brydon, who's coming off a stellar year on the World Cup circuit and has been leading the field in training and competition this week. “I'm really impressed with this course. It offers lot of different things – it's a bit slow, but it'll be a great Super G track. It would be good to bring more races to Canada and add something in the east to the current World Cup stop in Lake Louise.”

Brydon tore down La Charlevoix in one minute, 28.02 seconds – a full 1.4 seconds ahead of the field. Teammate and World Cup regular Kelly VanderBeek was the closest to challenging Brydon's time, finishing second in 1:29.42.

“This is a great course, and it definitely compares to other World Cup courses on the women's circuit,” agreed VanderBeek. “I didn't ski well today. I race with Emily all year on the World Cup, and I've never been that far back. To be honest, I skied for silver today, and that's where I finished.”

While Brydon and VanderBeek have led the women's field all week, the next few spots have been rotating among a strong group of competitors. On Friday, it was Brigitte Acton who finished third, recording a time of 1:29.64. Acton, who lives in Sault Ste-Marie, Ont., but skied out of Mont Tremblant, comes from a long line of alpine ski racers. Her parents and sister are all Canadian Alpine Ski Team alumni, and both her mother Diane (nee Pratte) and uncle Raymond Pratte were Pontiac Cup champions. Many of the Actons are in Quebec this weekend to cheer Brigitte on.

“I am very happy. Everything went much better than yesterday,” said the 18-year-old Acton. “I pushed much harder and was more aggressive today. I have a lot more confidence in myself now that we've been down the course four times. It's a great course, and it was so sunny today, there were no shadows – we don't get to race in those conditions very often.”

Montreal's Sophie Splawinski had a difficult time hiding her smile on Friday. The teen, who's had career-best results in World Cup action this season, finally laid down a run on La Charlevoix that she was happy with, finishing fourth in 1:29.74. Val-Morin's Genevi