Ski cross racer Kevin Drury seeks consistency after disappointing season
Canadian Olympian's hard work pays off with victory at 2019-20 World Cup opener
A challenging 2018-19 ski cross season for Kevin Drury was filled with "a lot of bad races," poor results and enough crashes to make him question his approach to racing.
When he struggled, Drury had the tendency to force a pass against an opponent rather than remaining calm and trusting his abilities.
"With some of the smaller courses last year, it seemed the only way to get by someone was to make contact," the Toronto native said in a recent interview. "It happened more and more as the season went."
"A small mistake at the start put me into third, and partway down the course, there was contact between me and [Switzerland's] Alex [Fiva]," Drury told Alpine Canada at the time. "It could have gone either way, really."
Late-season medals 'kept me going'
"It felt like I was involved in crashes nearly every race," he told CBC Sports. "Was it my fault? Were my opponents to blame? My coaches had to reassure that it's not always me. When you have a couple of bad races in a row, you do things you shouldn't be doing."
At the world championships two weeks earlier, Drury finished third behind Francois Place of France and reigning Olympic champ Brady Leman of Calgary in Solitude, Utah.
WATCH | Kevin Drury takes bronze at world championships:
Drury entered this season, his fifth on the World Cup circuit, understanding he doesn't have to "try to re-invent the wheel" if he isn't getting the desired results.
"Obviously, there's a certain amount of luck in ski cross. It wasn't like I was making mistakes or not performing," Drury said of last season. "You have to know you're skiing well and stick to your plan.
"My goal this year is to be more consistent, and whenever you get on the podium, it always helps you realize that what you're working on is paying off."
Drury carried his late-season success into the 2019-20 opener on Dec. 6 at Val Thorens, France, where he notched his second-career World Cup victory after breezing through the quarter-final and semifinal rounds.
"I had my plan [and it] came together. On the last turn, I executed and came out in first," Drury said after defeating Youri Duplessis Kergomard of France and Ryan Regez of Switzerland. He placed sixth the following day in the small final.
On the women's side, Canada's Courtney Hoffos and India Sherret captured silver and bronze, respectively.
4th in Olympic debut
"Watching the girls succeed pushes us to want to do the same thing," said Drury. "As a team, I would like to see us win again this year. I think we're capable of being the best."
Drury is competing at the World Cup event at Montafon in the Austrian Alps this weekend and Arosa in Switzeralnd on Dec. 17.
A former star alpine racer at the University of Vermont, where he was a math major, Drury made his ski cross debut in December 2015. He finished fourth at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February 2018 after crashing out early in the men's big final and less than two weeks later earned his first World Cup win in Sunny Valley, Russia.
"My skiing can be there on any day," said Drury, whose aunt Marion Lay was an Olympic swimmer and 1968 bronze medallist with Canada's women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay team in Mexico City.
"If I'm really excited I make mistakes and if I'm too down, I'm not going to be as fast and as responsive. It's about being able to realize where I'm at and bring it back to centre."