SUNSHINE VILLAGE, Alta. - It's "top secret stuff," according to Erik Guay.
The Canadian alpine team is searching for the crucial hundredths of a second that could be the difference between standing on the Olympic podium next year or leaving Sochi empty-handed.
They've gathered this month at Sunshine Village in Banff National Park for their spring training camp where they are testing out new equipment in an effort to gain any advantage they can as they prepare for the 2014 Olympics.
"A couple of times I've been extremely close," veteran Guay said in a recent interview. "I was fourth in Torino, fifth twice in Vancouver so I've been right there knocking on the door but not quite stepping on the podium."
The native of Mont-Tremblant, Que., said he has been testing out new equipment and, with any luck, it could give him that boost he's looking for.
"We try to get out as early as we can to test new equipment and test new products," he said. "That way we can get back to the company and they can build the new products heading forward in the summer."
But he doesn't want to give too much away.
"I mean this is the kind of stuff we're playing with here that will come out on the racks in two years time," he said. "It's always top secret and they don't like to talk about it too much."
Ben Thomsen of Invermere, B.C., has gone from competitor to contender after a strong season and a silver medal at the test event in Sochi.
He is also looking for an equipment upgrade.
"Last year my gear wasn't exactly set up for me properly so we're working on that right now," he said, adding that he's trying a new model of skis. "This is a huge part of this camp."
Erin Mielzynski is more focused on technique. The skier from Guelph, Ont., won her first World Cup race in March 2012 in slalom and finished with a bronze last season.
"Now it's about closing gaps and kind of thinking about hundredths of a second rather than whole seconds now," she said. "It's a lot of very specific things that we look at."
Every little bit helps, according to Guay.
"We're in a sport that deals in hundredths of a second. It could be anything," he said. "It could be your day one day and all of a sudden you're finishing 10th and I truly believe anyone in the top 15 in the World Cup can perform well enough to be on the podium any given day."
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