Forsyth Says Farewell

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SkiracerIt put a damper on the good news that Austrian Patrick Riml will take over as manager of the Canadian women’s alpine team. Riml coached the U.S. Europa and World Cup teams for seven years, guiding Julia Mancuso to Olympic gold in the giant slalom in Turin and Lindsey Vonn to the overall and downhill World Cup titles last season.

Both are significant changes for the last winter before the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Expectations are rising. Alpine Canada has set a target of a record-tying three podiums at the 2009 World Championships in Val d’Isère, France, in February.

The Canadian women’s team picked up seven of Canada’s 10 podiums in 2007-08, showing the men’s side they wouldn’t be outdone as they were the season before. Dubbing themselves the Canadian Speed Queens and wearing dollar-store tiaras on the podiums, the women’s side had wins by Britt Janyk in the downhill at Aspen and Emily Brydon in the super-G at St. Moritz. Janyk finished 3rd in the overall downhill standings.

That kind of performance leadership will help fill the void left by Forsyth’s departure. Hailed by then Alpine Canada President Ken Read as a skier who “kept the link to excellence alive” through tough times for Canadian skiing, the native of Nanaimo, B.C., tried valiantly to overcome injuries during the past two seasons before tearfully concluding her career. Injuries made the decision for her. She had no cartilage left in her knee. Bone rubbed on bone.

“Allison left skiing a better place than she found it,” Read said. But Forsyth had hoped she could leave it on home snow, at the 2010 Olympics in Whistler. She wanted at least another tour of the World Cup, maybe wearing a pink helmet to raise awareness about breast cancer, which took her mother’s life last year.

“It will be a new wave of sadness when the Olympics roll around,” she said. “For now, I’ll focus on empowering my teammates. If it’s not me [on the podium], it had better be one of them.”

The platform to help them climb there is under construction. Besides hiring Riml, Alpine Canada added to its World Cup coaching staff with Jim Pollock and Mark Sharp, who will be rejoining the women’s team, while Dusan Grasic takes the reins of the men’s technical team.

Pollock returns to lead the women’s technical team after spending two years with U.S. skiers. Sharp has more than 20 years of coaching experience and worked with Pollock in leading Forsyth to her World Championship.

James Christie
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