March 8, 2009
by Desmond D’Souza… Here we are, less than a year away from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Much of the talk in this country has been about Canada’s Mens hockey team. But there are a many more amateur athletes who only make a name for themselves once every four years. Canadian alpine skiier Mike Janyk fits that description as one of Canada’s amateur medal hopeful’s next year.
Of course the majority of Canadians watch the Winter Olympics for the hockey. Either that, or the events where a Canadian is expected to medal. Janyk will be the hometown boy in Whistler and is definitely a favourite to at least medal. He is coming off a bronze medal in the Slalom event at the 2009 Alpine Skiing World Championships, one of the two medals Canada won (John Kucera won the downhill event).
Why doesn’t he get more attention? Because skiing is a “world sport.” What I mean is that Canada doesn’t care about these athletes unless they do something amazing. Take for example Daniel Nestor, Canadian tennis player. When is the only time you hear his name? When he wins a doubles title at Wimbleton. Of course from time to time, some skiing events will be squeezed in to the final minutes of a sports program. Or maybe even a little note at the bottom of a sports show’s ticker. But as 2010 nears, I think more time should be spent focusing on the athletes that will participate at the games.
On the flip side, maybe it’s due to injury that people haven’t really heard of Janyk. He spent most of last year sidelined due to a back injury and is just starting to feel at 100 per cent. In his latest bronze medal finish, he said he took more risks on the course to even have a chance to be on the podium. Injuries do have something to do with it, just ask Jan Hudec. A couple of years ago, Hudec was actually pretty big in Canada. He was finishing high in his races, but then suffered a knee injury which he hasn’t fully recovered from yet. So now that Janyk is healthy, expect to hear more from the slalom specialist.
Being a year away from the big event, skiing will probably not be in the limelight anytime soon. Janyk would have to win a few races for people to really take notice. But since he hasn’t won a world cup event yet, expect his first one to be covered in the same way Hudec’s was. As I recall, TSN led Sportscentre with Hudec’s win just a couple of years ago. So if you haven’t heard of Mike Janyk yet, expect to see him at the top of a podium well before the main stage in 2010.