CALGARY — The good news for the Canadian men's alpine ski team is Erik Guay and Jan Hudec are back from knee injuries and ready to start the downhill season in Lake Louise. The bad news is Dustin Cook is not.
Cook's season ended before it began with major knee surgery scheduled for Nov. 12 in London, Ont.
The 26-year-old from Ottawa had a breakout 2014-15 with super-G silver at the world championship and a World Cup victory.
But Cook tore several ligaments in his right knee while training in Pitzall, Austria, last week. He will not race this season.
"Obviously bummed, but I always said if I got hurt, I would be positive and do whatever I can to get back," Cook told The Canadian Press from Toronto on Wednesday.
The men's World Cup speed season opens Nov. 28 in Lake Louise with the first downhill, followed by a super-G race the following day at the Alberta resort west of Calgary.
Guay is Canada's most decorated World Cup skier with 22 medals. Hudec won Olympic bronze in super-G in 2014.
Guay took a season off from racing for the first time in his career. The 34-year-old from Mont-Tremblant, Que., wasn't ready to race last winter after a pair of surgeries on his left knee in 2014.
Hudec's campaign ended early because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. The Calgarian underwent season-ending surgery in January.
Both men say they're ready to race in Lake Louise. Manny Osborne-Paradis of Invermere, Alta., was second in downhill in 2014 for Canada's first medal on home snow since 2009. A healthy Cook would have given Canada's men another medal threat in their home World Cup race.
"It was definitely in the back of our minds for sure," Cook said. "I hope those guys have a great season and I think they will. I definitely want to get back competing with and against them for sure."
Guay is further along in his season prep than Hudec, having participated in four summer camps on snow.
"I'd be lying if I said I feel like I was 20 years old," Guay said. "At my age, it's not realistic to have no injuries or no pain when you ski, but it's certainly manageable. I definitely feel fitter than I have in the past couple of years and I feel much more ready for the ski season.
"I've had four solid camps this summer and no setbacks as of yet. The skiing seems to be going in the right direction, but ultimately none of that matters until you start racing and the racing goes well."
Hudec's knee didn't recover as quickly as he hoped from surgery. The 34-year-old didn't get back on snow until Oct. 8.
"I feel confident in my strength and the work I've done at the gym, so it's just fine-tuning before the race season starts," Hudec said. "For me, it's not a matter of having a lot of volume of skiing. It's just being strong enough to ski how I want to ski. I feel like I'm at that place."
The alpine ski team was in Toronto to meet with media and sponsors. Cook was on crutches when he was presented with a vehicle from Audi as one of the top-performing Canadian skiers of last season.
"Mixed blessing because at least I'll be home to use it, but I'd rather not be," Cook said.
A year ago, Guay's plan was to delay his return to racing to be healthy and ready for February's world championship in Beaver Creek, Colo. But whenever he pushed the pace in training, Guay's knee would swell and pain would return.
"I kept expecting my knee to heal up and I'd be ready by a certain date. It didn't end up being the case," he said. "So it wasn't that tough of a decision to pull out of the season and just focus on rehabbing and being ready for this year."
Of Hudec's eight knee surgeries in his career, seven have been on his right knee.
"It's the reality of my knee that it's not going to be ideal or perfect, but at the same time I can control it with my conditioning and you know, there's better living through pharmaceuticals, as they say," he joked.