Canadian racers use social media to solve injury rates
Cowboys Boot Up
and sell themselves BY BRYCE HUBNER
Erik Guay giddies up for the Hahnenkamm finish last month.
If you haven’t done so already, meet the Canadian Cowboys on Facebook and Twitter.
Founded a few years ago by the alpine World Cuppers
who make up Canada’s most talented group of men since
the Crazy Canucks — when guys like Steve Podborski
and Ken Read sped to dozens of downhill podiums in the
1970s and 80s — the Canadian Cowboys team is equal
parts branding, philanthropy and social-media savvy.
“The founding members of the Cowboys are Mike Janyk,
Jan Hudec, John Kucera, Erik Guay, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, and Francois Bourque,” says Whistler-based
Christopher Colpitts, the Cowboys’ brand manager. “Our
mission is to raise the level of awareness about Canadian skiing — in Canada and around the world — through
a strong, recognizable brand that will get people excited
to see it and in turn give back to Canadian ski racing in
Each of the Canadian Cowboys have climbed World
Cup podiums — Guay and Osborne-Paradis alone have
23 podiums between them, and Guay is the reigning
World Cup super G champ. It’s a solid, well-recognized
group bringing Canadian ski racing to the masses. But
that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little help from social
“The Cowboys brand [dabbled in] social media at the
beginning of the 2009-10 season, but we’ve put a bigger
focus on it this season,” Colpitts says. “As individuals,
Mike and Manny started last year and Erik has joined
them this year. It’s developed an amazing way to interact
with the fans in a more direct manner, and it’s great to
see the support that’s out there.”
Fan interaction has included everything from fun video
posts to Guay’s solicitation of public feedback about how
to make downhill safer, which he posted on Facebook
and Twitter after witnessing Cowboy teammate Osborne-
Paradis break his leg and blow out his knee in Chamonix
on Jan. 29.
The official Canadian Cowboys’ Twitter (https://twitter.
com/cowboysracing) and Facebook (
http://www.face-book.com/CowboysSkiRacing?v=app 4949752878) pages often aggregate the individual members’ tweets and
posts, but they also add plenty of unique content. Fans
can also visit http://cowboysracing.com, which sells logo-laden t-shirts and sweatshirts that support a very good
“Canadian Cowboys merchandise revenue supports the
running of camps and ventures that are aimed at giving
back to ski racing in Canada,” says Colpitts, adding that
Janyk and Osborne-Paradis started the original “
Cowboys Camp” for junior racers who might not otherwise
be able to afford competing at the highest levels of the
sport. The two still run a Cowboys Camp each spring in
Whistler, where they throw on their coaching hats and
foot the entire bill for 10 lucky junior racers to train during
four days on snow.
Though their social media following pales in comparison
to Lindsey Vonn (who seems to have more people “
liking” and “following” her than live in the entire nation of
Canada) the Cowboys are catching on and now have the
attention of thousands of folks.
Look for Cowboys Janyk, Hudec and Guay at the Garmisch World Champs — in person or on the Internet.
Manuel Osborne-Paradis at
Chamonix on Jan. 29, the
day his season ended.