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Canada's Erik Guay to defend downhill title at world championships

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SCHLADMING, Austria - Reigning world downhill champion Erik Guay knows the course at the world ski championships hasn't been kind to him in the past.

But the Canadian veteran is still confident ahead of the Feb. 5-17 event, thanks to a run of solid results in recent weeks.

"I feel good about everything," Guay said Monday on a conference call. "I was really satisfied with my month of January. We had a good game plan coming into January."

Guay, who took silver a week ago at a World Cup downhill in Kitzbuhel, Austria, said he's ready to try to defend his world title.

"I feel like I'm prepared," he said. "I know that know that it's going to be different, special conditions here, but I'm looking forward to this week, I think it's going to be exciting."

He's only been on the course once before — in two races last year — and didn't finish well.

"My results historically haven't been that great," he said. "Last year I think I finished 15th or 16th, somewhere around there."

Guay, from Mont-Tremblant, Que., won his downhill title in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in 2011. He expects the Schladming course will be a challenge.

"It's not really steep, especially on the top sections, a lot of terrain to it," he said. "Lots of rolls, ups and downs, with about I should say five downhill turns of steep terrain towards the finish area."

Guay is looking to continue Canada's downhill success that started when Jan Hudec of Calgary won silver six years ago in Are, Sweden. Two years later, John Kucera of Calgary claimed the title in Val d’Isere, France.

The competition begins Tuesday with the women's super-G. Guay plans to compete in the men's super-G race Wednesday ahead of Saturday's downhill.

"I know that to be on the podium here in super G, I'm going to have to take a lot of chances," he said. "I'm going to have to push those limits. I expect it to be very close for the top three guys.

"I'm just going to have to take those risks."

Canadian men's coach Paul Kristofic said this year's team has a good mix of proven finishers — such as Guay and Hudec — as well as some new faces.

"(We're) certainly looking to start the week off with a strong start with our men's speed team through super G and downhill and absolutely looking to defend our title in downhill," he said.

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