BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Dustin Cook hit back at those who had written off the injury-hit Canadian men’s team at the alpine ski world championships by grabbing an unlikely Super-G silver medal on Thursday.
With 2011 downhill world champion Erik Guay and Sochi Olympic downhill bronze medallist Jan Hudec out with injuries, the team known as the ‘Canadian Cowboys’ were tipped by many to return home empty-handed.
The Canadians took exception to one particular article in a Vancouver paper headlined, “Men’s team in a downhill spiral” that labeled the squad as “depleted, underperforming.”
An inspired Cook answered critics with a sizzling run down a sun-kissed Birds of Prey layout to finish 0.11 seconds back of race winner Hannes Reichelt of Austria.
“That article, we read that and had a good laugh,” said Cook, who will not race in Saturday’s downhill. “We are missing our top guys but we still had a bunch of good results that weren’t mentioned.
“That (article) didn’t enter my mind at any point today but now after some guys came up to me and said that’s the best way to show them how it’s done.
“We’re definitely an underappreciated sport in Canada I hope this will get some attention and get the word out there that just because some our top guys are unfortunately injured that we are not down and out.”
While the team considered the criticism harsh, certainly few outside the Canadian squad tipped Cook for a podium finish.
The 25-year-old Ottawa native has been with the national team for seven years bouncing between the World Cup and NorAm and Europa Cup circuits.
His best World Cup result are a pair of very modest 12th place finishes.
“I have been skiing really fast all year, I’ve been skiing fast in training for too many years and this year I’ve had a lot of good results,” said Cook.
“Nobody in Europe really knows who I am so it is a surprise to those guys but for me it is a little bit of a surprise but nothing crazy ... I know I am capable of this for sure.”
“It has definitely been a tough year for us with injuries and guys retiring but thinking about me being the frontrunner isn’t something that enters my mind especially when my best result is a 12th I’m just going as hard as I can to see how fast I can go.”
Editing by Frank Pingue