Stutz tops FIS indoor races

By Jason Pirie

Paul Stutz was determined to commence the 2007-08 World Cup ski season on a high note.

And the 24-year-old Banff Community High School alum accomplished exactly that by powering his way to a pair of indoor Europa Cup FIS Slalom race wins last week (Nov. 8-9) in Landgraaf, Netherlands.

The slalom specialist Stutz said the recent victories were nice to earn this early on in the season, so he could have something to show for the numerous gruelling training sessions he had to endure during the off-season.

"It was a cool way to start the season," Stutz, a member of Canada's Alpine Ski Team since 2001, said. "It was a good Europa Cup field in Netherlands, so I'm really happy with the results. I had a great summer of training, and my goal was to carry that over into the season... so far so good.

"It was a neat experience to be racing indoors," he added. "I've had some past experience with training indoors, but it's completely different when you're actually racing. It's hard snow, and the course is short and flat."

A mere 48 hours after his pair of FIS victories, Stutz was off to Austria to compete in a World Cup Slalom event held in Reiteralm on Sunday (Nov. 11). He carried the momentum from his success in Netherlands to become the lone Canadian to finish the relentless Gasselhoehe course.

Stutz placed 28th overall after a two-run combined time of 1:56.97, while Canadian teammates Ryan Semple (Montreal, Que.) and Jean-Philippe Roy (Gatineau, Que.) did not finish the first run.

"I was really pleased with my first run, but unfortunately I made a mistake in the second one," he said. "I nearly went off the course. But I was able to hold it together to earn a top-30 result and get some World Cup points, which is great."

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team - with 13 podium finishes - enjoyed its greatest season to date in 2006-07; however, Stutz is expecting he and his Canuck teammates to better that success this winter.

"As a team, we had a great season last year, but we want to carry that momentum into this season," he said. "I definitely think the entire team has more pressure to perform this year. But a majority of that pressure comes from ourselves.

"I think pressure is a good thing," he added. "I know I strive to be the best at every event. I enter every race wanting to be the fastest, and expect top results from myself."

With a pair of FIS wins and some valuable World Cup points to his credit already this season, Stutz said the Bombardier Lake Louise World Cup, which goes Nov. 24-25, could not have come at a better time.

"It's always nice to come home," he said. "The Lake Louise event is always a good one. I've been down that course a lot, and hopefully I can use that to my advantage. It would be great to ski to a top result in front of all my family and friends."

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