Britt Janyk retires

17 May 2011 20:45

Veteran Canadian ski racer Britt Janyk has announced her retirement from competitive ski racing on Tuesday.

The bubbly 30-year-old Whistler native has brought an end to her 15-year career with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, during which time she established herself as a consistent force on the World Cup circuit.

“The decision was a very difficult one to make because I still really love the sport and I love ski racing,” said Janyk, who grew up skiing on Whistler Mountain and made her Olympic debut at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver-Whistler.

“There’s a part of me that would still like to continue. But at the same time, I just feel ready to move on.”

Janyk is from a family of skiers. Her grandfather, Peter Vajda, was an engineer who was involved in the installation of Whistler’s first ski lifts. Britt’s mom, Andrée, is a ski instructor and her brother, Michael, is also an established Canadian Alpine Ski Team member who won bronze in the slalom at the world championships in 2009.

Britt made the national team in 1996 and has been a consistent World Cup performer ever since. She earned her first podium at Lake Louise, Alta., in December, 2007, and her first career World Cup victory later that month in Aspen, Colorado. Both results came in the downhill.

“My World Cup win was definitely one of my career highlights. I was coming back from being off the team – in 2006, I had to pay my own way,” said Janyk. “I’ve enjoyed it every step of the way, even through the tough times. I have so many fantastic memories.”

In addition to her long career on the World Cup circuit, Janyk has fond memories of the journey she took to reach the top.

“I remember winning my first Nor-Am super-G at Lake Louise on the World Cup course,” said Janyk of the 1996 race. “I remember racing my first races over in Europe, winning my first giant slalom Europa Cup race.

“Winning my first World Cup race came exactly a week after I stepped onto the podium for the first time at Lake Louise. My parents were there at the finish. That was a really incredible feeling – to be able to get the result and get a hug from my mom and dad.”

As she reflects on a long career in ski racing, Janyk says it’s tough to top the experience of competing in her first Olympics in 2010, on her home hill. She finished sixth in downhill, 17th in super-G and 25th in giant slalom.

“That feeling when I came into the finish area made me speechless,” said Janyk. “I just can’t express the emotions I felt hearing the crowd, the roar of the people at the bottom.”

Janyk had three top-10 World Cup finishes in the 2010-11 season and put the finishing touches on her season by winning the super-G and downhill titles at the Canadian Championships. That brought the number of national titles she has won to 15.

Janyk will be helping to mentor kids at a B.C. Alpine ski camp in Whistler this week. Passing on her knowledge to the next generation of ski racers is a passion she will continue to pursue in the coming months and years. Although Janyk is still figuring out exactly what life will look like after ski racing, she’s planning to work with Alpine Canada to mentor and coach a new wave of female speed skiers.

“Coming up as a skier, Mélanie Turgeon was on the team and part of what allowed me to get great results was coming through with a group that included Geneviève Simard, Emily Brydon and Kelly VanderBeek,” said Janyk. “We really pushed each other and learned from each other. If there’s an opportunity for Emily, myself and others to help out that would be fantastic.

“For now, I’m going to take some time to figure out what’s next, but I’m very excited about what this new chapter of my life will look like. It will be nice to have more time to do different things and maybe I’ll even get the chance to watch my brother race over in Europe this winter.”