Erik Read ready to carry family banner to Winter Olympics

Erik Read is carrying on the family business as a member of Canada's Olympic alpine racing team.

Son of former Crazy Canuck standout Ken Read will ski at the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea

Canada's Erik Read smiles after a ninth-place finish in World Cup giant slalom in Val d'Isere, France. Read will represent Canada for the first time at the Olympics in South Korea this month. (Giovanni Auletta/The Associated Press)

Erik Read is carrying on the family business as a member of Canada's Olympic alpine racing team.

He's the son of Ken Read, a former member of the Crazy Canucks, who dominated alpine skiing competitions in the 1970s and '80s, winning five World Cup races during his career and competing at two Olympics, in Innsbruck, Austria, and Lake Placid, N.Y.

And now Erik is following in his dad's ski tracks, heading to his first Olympics this month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"It's extremely exciting, the Olympics is something you dream about as a kid," Erik told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday.

"Having this come to fruition and working toward this for countless years.… I can't tell you just how cool it is to be nominated and have this opportunity."

Erik, a two-time Canadian champion in slalom, missed competing at the 2014 Games in Sochi due to injury. His goal is to one day stand on an Olympic podium, but with this being his first Games, he's not setting expectations too high.

"I'm not going there to win a medal, not saying anything can't happen, but I realize this is the next step I have to take," he said.

"These last two years, especially, I've had runs and performances that put me Top 3 in the world, and my best result was a sixth place, so I'm not far from the podium. I will go into the Games with as much energy as I can, and anything can happen."

Erik Read speeds down the course in the men's World Cup slalom, in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in 2017. (Shinichiro Tanaka/The Associated Press)

What makes Erik's Olympic qualification even more impressive is that for the past three seasons, he has competed on the NCAA circuit — studying at the University of Denver — as well as representing Canada on World Cup. That's another way he's followed in his parents' footsteps, as they both continued to study while racing.  

"My dad, I think, only took one year off his schooling from when he finished high school until his career ended when he was 2. He was going to Western University, just chipping away at it," said Erik.

"That's something I also did here in Calgary for a few years. But then I actually made the transition, where I went full NCAA, and it, for sure, was challenging last season when I was on the World Cup circuit full-time but also trying to balance school. I was going back and forth to the U.S. and Europe almost every week at one point."

School, he said, has actually been a welcome distraction at times.

"It's definitely an advantage to have something I'm working toward outside of sport, because that is what a lot of athletes have a tough time trying to find out, where they fit into the world outside of sport, because it does come to an end," said Erik.

"I think it also helped me achieve my results, because when something is not going well in skiing, I have something else to turn my attention toward, so I was able to create this nice balance."


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener