Erik Guay wants 1 more shot at Olympic podium
Veteran skiier enters World Cup season with singular focus
Erik Guay knows the end is coming, but the 35-year-old skier is confident that he still has one more Winter Olympics left in him.
"I really hope it's not going to be the last year," says Canada's all-time leader in alpine World Cup podiums. "My objective is to make it to the 2018 South Korea Olympics, then after that I think I might retire.
"I think by then it'll be time to move on."
Guay is competing in Val d'Isere, France this week as the men's downhill and super-G season gets a late start (the Lake Louise event scheduled for last week was cancelled due to a lack of snow). He had the fastest time in Thursday's downhill training session.
"I had a great end of the season last year, and I really just want to kick off the season the same way," says the Mont Tremblant, Que., native.
"I finished with a podium at the last races of the year and I'd like to start that on the same foot."
Last season was a trying one for Guay, who missed all of 2014-15 — including the world championships — while recovering from his sixth knee procedure. After a slow start to the 2015-16 campaign, Guay finished third in the downhill event at St. Moritz, Switzerland in March to claim his first podium spot since 2014.
"I expect podiums for myself, and I think that I trained hard this summer. I did everything I needed to, and if I ski well I should be on the podium regularly," Guay says.
Ready to 'go after it'
Guay is the longest-tenured member of Canada's national team by some measure — especially after Jan Hudec was left off of Alpine Canada's 35-member roster in May. Hudec, who won bronze for Canada at the Sochi Olympics, is now competing for his birth country, the Czech Republic.
"It's amazing how it changes. I distinctly remember making the team and being by far the youngest on the team," Guay says. "It's fun to watch these young guys come up and challenge me and it's fun for me to challenge myself and try to stay ahead of these guys."
In a sport dominated by European countries — Guay's bronze was the lone World Cup podium finish for Canadian men last season— the Canadian contingent is largely unheralded. But Guay refuses to rule them out.
"There's some good young guys that haven't quite proven themselves on the World Cup yet, but a lot of it comes down to confidence. You need that one good result just to prove to yourself that you deserve to be there.
"After that, a lot of times you see them sort of unblock and they can compete with the best."
Qualification for the Games in Pyeongchang is approaching, along with the world championships in February.
Guay intends to make the most of this opportunity and earn the Olympic medal that has eluded him so far in his career. He missed the super-G podium by an agonizing one tenth of a second in Turin in 2006, had a pair of fifth-place finishes in Vancouver in 2010, and was 10th in the downhill in 2014.
"The last knee surgery that I had, I decided this was it — I'm going to put everything that I can into coming back, and if something else happens I'm going to move on and spend some more time with the family," says the father of three.
"I'd rather go after it and crash than feel like I left something out there."