They wore heart-shaped stickers with his initials on their helmets and black ribbons next to his name on their bibs as the World Cup ski family mourned the recent death of racer David Poisson at the opening men’s downhill at Lake Louise.
The popular Frenchman died in a training accident in Nakiska, Canada earlier this month ahead of the first speed event, which was won by Switzerland’s world downhill champion Beat Feuz.
The 30-year-old beat Olympic champion Matthias Mayer of Austria by just under one tenth of second.
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who missed most of last season following knee surgery, finished in third.
Feuz, who also won downhill bronze at the worlds in 2015, clocked one minute 43.76 seconds to triumph on the Alberta track, which was shortened because the landing off the first jump was not deemed safe.
“Beginning the season with a win is the best thing that can happen,” Feuz told reporters.
“I had a great summer preparation, without any injuries and am very happy about how things turned out here, especially as I’m not performing very well here usually.”
The 27-year-old Mayer drew on past experience of three podium places in super-G races at Lake Louise to score another top three.
Svindal, 34, who won Olympic downhill silver and super-G gold in 2010, also missed much of 2016 with a knee injury and was happy just to be back on the circuit.
“(The knee) is not awesome, but racing is racing,” the two-time downhill world champion told reporters.
“You don’t get old in sports, it’s more about injuries you have. In the end, there’s just too much stuff that’s not working the way it should.”
Svindal’s close friend and countryman Kjetil Jansrud hit back from fifth in the downhill to clinch Sunday’s super-G under light snow and rain at Lake Louise.
Jansrud, 32, the defending Olympic super-G champion, edged Austrian duo Max Franz (+0.28 secs) and Hannes Reichelt (+0.32 secs) to claim the season-opener.
Svindal was fifth behind compatriot Aleksander Aamodt Kilder, while Feuz finished 12th.
On the women’s circuit, US star Mikaela Shiffrin won Sunday’s slalom in Killington, Vermont after finishing second behind Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg in the previous day’s giant slalom.
Shiffrin, the overall World Cup champion last season, put down two impressive runs to score her 26th World Cup slalom victory in front of her home crowd.
The 22-year-old Olympic champion beat Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova by 1.64 seconds with Austrian Bernadette Schild 2.67 secs back in third.
Rebensburg, the 2010 Olympic giant slalom champion, also won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, where Shiffrin finished a disappointing fifth.