Canada's bevy of talented alpine skiers look to put world on notice at Beijing Games

With World Cup top 10 finishes in every discipline this season, Canada's fresh-faced alpine team will contend for medals at Beijing 2022, where 33 are up for grabs.

21 Canadians, many of whom are podium contenders, target 33 available medals

Toronto's Jack Crawford finished fifth in the first men's downhill training run at Beijing 2022. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

There has never been an Olympic alpine venue to host the Games without a test event, but that is the unique factor about Beijing 2022 and the Yanqing National Alpine Centre.

Canada is sending 13 alpine skiers to the Games, competing in downhill, super-G, slalom, giant slalom and the team event. With unknown courses and snow conditions similar to North America, Canadians are contenders in nearly every event, with 33 medals up for grabs.

Jack Crawford and Broderick Thompson will be medal hunting in the men's super-G and downhill.

2021-22 could not have started better for Whistler's Thompson, 23, who skied to his first World Cup podium in Beaver Creek, Colo., in November. Despite missing the 2019-20 season with severe knee injuries, he has returned in fine form, keeping the speed he possessed before the injury.

"It felt like a lifelong dream happened in the blink of an eye; I was shocked really," Thompson told CBC Sports. "I'm going into the Olympics feeling strong and healthy, so that is all I could ask for."

WATCH | Toronto's Jack Crawford skis to fifth in Thursday's downhill training run:

For Crawford, it's his chance to put the world on notice. The Toronto native won the super-G portion of the world championship alpine combined in Cortina, Italy, in 2021 before finishing fourth after the slalom run. In January, he finished sixth in the Kitzbühel downhill.

With four top-10 finishes this season in super-G and downhill, and a fifth-place result in the first Beijing 2022 training run, he is primed for a breakout.

"It was a lot easier than expected, the new track is always nerve-wracking, but the skiing was pretty good and there's a lot of room for improvement," Crawford told CBC Sports after the training run. "I took it today as a super-G, we only get three chances and I wanted to get a good run down and be able to build over the next three days."

The first alpine skiing event of the Games is the men's downhill at 10 p.m. ET on Friday and will be streamed live on

Young tech skiers look to take next step

Ali Nullmeyer, Valerie Grenier, and Erin Mielzynski have all cracked the top 10 this season, and are serious contenders in the women's slalom and giant slalom races before speed takes over in Week 2.

Nullmeyer, 23, established herself among slalom's best, skiing to fifth place in Zagreb, Croatia, one of the more demanding World Cup slopes.

The Torontonian continued her impressive form by skiing to sixth in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Nullmeyer's strength is her ability to fight from the back. In Zagreb, she skied to her career-best from bib 23, reaching fifth after finishing 17th on the first of two runs.

While 2021-22 has been a breakout year for Nullmeyer, Grenier and Miezlynski have had past World Cup success, and are medal contenders in giant slalom and slalom, respectively. Grenier is heading to her second Olympics after recovering from a broken leg in 2019-20, while Mielzynski is the group's veteran leader racing her fourth Games.

"I like it when things are challenging, it makes me think about the process instead of the outcome," Mielzynski, 31, told CBC Sports. "It levels the playing field a bit, it's no one's strength and it's no one's weakness, and there is something beautiful about that."

Grenier finished sixth in alpine combined at Pyeongchang 2018. While she has yet to crack a World Cup podium, the Mont-Tremblant, Que., native finished fourth in giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, potentially making her a contender in both the combined and giant slalom events.

Filling out the Canadian tech team is more youth in Cassidy Gray and Amelia Smart, who each scored World Cup points this season.

Canada kicks out of the giant slalom start gate on Feb. 6 at 9:15 p.m. ET, which will be broadcast live on

Read carves his own path

Erik Read hasn't stepped onto the World Cup podium but could be bound for an Olympic breakout. The 23-year-old consistently skis into the top 15 in World Cup events but has spent time among the top competitors. The son of two-time Olympian Ken Read, Erik has established himself on the tech circuit with eight top-10 finishes.

Heading to his third Olympics, Calgary's Trevor Philp will also ski the giant slalom, in addition to the downhill as he looks to build on three career World Cup top five finishes.

WATCH | Getting to know Erik Read's family:

Gagnon's Olympic return in speed

Few athletes have top 10 results in all five alpine disciplines, but Marie-Michèle Gagnon does.

After reaching the podium four times early in her tech career, Gagnon switched to speed events — a transition very few make.

At Sochi 2014, Gagnon suffered a shoulder injury in the giant slalom, going on to ski the slalom in pain. In 2017, she sustained another shoulder injury during downhill training in Lake Louise, Alta., forcing her to miss Pyeongchang 2018.

After two tough Olympic seasons, she returns to the Games as a medal contender in downhill, super-G and alpine combined. Yanqing's steep slopes will play to her advantage as a former tech skier, and with a fifth-place finish in Zauchensee, Austria, she is in form heading into these Olympics.

Gagnon, 32, and Roni Remme open the women's speed events on Feb. 10 at 10 p.m. ET, which will also be broadcast live on


Ben Steiner

Freelance Writer

Ben Steiner is a freelance sports journalist and commentator with experience covering U SPORTS, FIS World Cup Alpine Skiing, IBSF World Cup Bobsled, and the Canadian National Soccer Teams. After growing up in Vancouver, he is now based in Toronto. Twitter: @BenSteiner00

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