The Canadian men's speed skiers - Erik Guay, John Kucera, Jan Hudec, Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon - are known as the "Canadian Cowboys." The team nickname is a modern-day rendition of the "Crazy Canucks," the band of Canadian skiers who raced on the World Cup tour in the 1970s and 1980s. Of the five, only Guay hails from an eastern province, Quebec. (Kucera and Hudec hail from Alberta, while Osborne-Paradis and Dixon are from British Columbia.) The Canadian women have their own version, the "Speed Queens," consisting of Emily Brydon, Britt Janyk and Kelly Vanderbeek.
Looking up to the "Pod" squad
Home slope advantage meant nothing for the Canadian men's Alpine team at the 1988 Calgary Games, as their skiers finished outside the top-10 in all five events. Heading into Vancouver, only two male Canadian Alpine skiers have ever won Olympic medals: Steve Podborski in 1980 and Edward Podivinsky in 1994, both bronze and both in the downhill.
A veteran of the Canadian national team since 1998, Guay just missed joining the "Pod" squad at the 2006 Torino Games. In the Super-G, he crossed the finish line in fourth place, only one-tenth of a second from the bronze medal. He also finished fourth - by two-hundredths of a second - in the downhill at the following year's World Championships. For his career, he has managed to finish on the World Cup podium on 10 different occasions, including his one and only victory at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2007 but has yet to strike it big at a major international event.
Not crossing over
Ski cross, which involves four to six skiers racing against each other on a run similar to an obstacle course, is making its debut at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 as a freestyle skiing event and is sure to get plenty of attention in its first run. Guay considered possibly doubling up before locking into Alpine at the end of 2008. He told the Globe and Mail, "I've done ski crosses in the past and I enjoy them a lot. With [the Alpine] schedule and [skier cross] being a freestyle event, it's just impossible to do both. If it were an Alpine event, I would do it 100 per cent."
Guay became a father in January 2009, when his fiancée (and Bode Miller's ex-girlfriend), Canadian model Karen Sherris, gave birth to a girl, Logann Elizabeth. His first two races after the birth (DNFs in the Wengen downhill and Kitzbuehel Super-G) illustrate that his mind may have been back home in Quebec rather than in the Alps. Guay and Sherris plan on getting married some time after the Olympics.
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.