Erik Guay, taxi dad and personal trainer
It’s what you call making the best of a bad lot. Excluded from the Pyeongyang Olympic Games and the White Circus because of a back problem, Erik Guay is taking full advantage of a rare winter with his loved ones, in Mont-Tremblant, to play full-time his role of husband, dad, taxi driver and personal trainer. First let’s get one thing straight: if Erik is fully exploring his unexpected and involuntary status as a mortal, the-ordinary-man-who-does-the-grocery-shopping, watching the Olympic speed trials from a distance doesn’t happen without a twinge of regret.
“I’ve found it tough. I didn’t think I would be affected like that. I wanted to be there…. I watched Svindal at the starting gate (Axel Lund, who won the run) and I saw myself in his place. I know what he was thinking and what he was going to experience,” said the champion skier, his eyes shining, during a long and generous exchange granted to Tremblant Express.
He also watched those other disciplines with his daughters (aged nine, five, three, and four months), something he’s never been able to do with them before.
“It was fun. I tried to get them worked up for Canada. We watched Mikaël Kingsbury do the moguls, in particular. The girls were pleased when he won.”
Skiing with his kids
Otherwise, how is it going, this first winter in ages at Mont-Tremblant? “I spent a winter here when I was injured, but I was really out of commission and couldn’t ski with my kids. Now I can do it. I can go slide the hills with them and do activities with them. It’s fun. I just have to be careful not to bend down or the back pain comes back.”
Like many other parents, Erik is discovering the joys of being a taxi driver for his growing kids. “I travel between dance lessons, gymnastics lessons, ski lessons; it keeps me pretty busy,” he admits with a burst of laughter.
And the skier thanks heaven that he’s here to watch the dawning of a passion in his oldest daughter, Logan, aged nine.
“She didn’t seem particularly interested in skiing up till now. She preferred dance and gymnastics, and that was fine with me. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but she decided from one day to the next that she wanted to start competing in skiing this season.”
Maybe Logan fell under the spell when she was little, with a father, uncles and paternal grandparents who, on a daily basis, have made skiing central to their lives? Of course, the young lady’s new interest fell on fertile ground.
Doing dictation on the lifts
In recent weeks at Mont-Tremblant Resort, you may have noticed an incredible skier whispering advice into the ear of a young girl, a tall skier who makes her recite her dictation and multiplication tables as they ride up the mountain on the lifts. Logan has been warned: this special weekday skiing program will continue only as long as her school marks are good.
“I kind of had my knuckles rapped at the school. But it’s time for a nine-year-old to start skiing seriously if he or she likes it. Logan has good marks and she’ll be able to continue weekday skiing if that continues.”
“The athlete makes sure that he’s careful not to force his daughter’s interest in his chosen sport. “It has to come from her, and I’ll be there to support her and facilitate things if needed. If not, it’s just not that serious.”
In fact, Erik is putting into practice, with his daughter, what he would like to see in the development programs for young skiers. If he puts aside the idea of eventually getting involved at the national level, he could be interested in local involvement at Tremblant.
“There’s no reason to explain why we haven’t developed champions on a regular basis in Canada. We are not effective enough with our programs. It’s nonsense to have young people train on the weekends when there are so many people on the slopes. When you ski during the week, there isn’t a soul and you don’t have any problems in having runs to train on. Why not ski during the week and study on the weekends? In winter, you have to ski. It’s as simple as that.”
The game plan
To follow up, Erik has the same game plan in spite of having to scrap his Olympic plans this winter: if his back holds up, he will continue with his career until the World Championships in February 2019, in Åre, Sweden, to defend his world champion titles in Super G and vice-champion in downhill.
The big test will be during the summer ski camps, probably in Zermatt and Chile. “I’m going to ski there. I’m going to see if it still interests me and if I’m still competitive. Then I’ll make my decision.” And plan B?
“I don’t really have a plan B, apart from being a full-time dad. For the time being, I want to concentrate on my career. I don’t want to spend energy on something else before arriving at the moment of making a decision about my future.”
What about those adrenaline hits – which he could really miss – when he abandons the high-wire feats of downhill and Super-G?
“Piloting a plane. Doing that, I find some of what I feel skiing. You have to be super focused. Sometimes your heart skips a beat as you thread down between the trees to land. It’s really a special feeling,” he says in closing.
Alain Bisson47 Posts
Journaliste depuis plus de 30 ans, Alain Bisson a débuté sa carrière au Journal de Montréal à titre de journaliste à l'économie. Au cours des dernières années, Alain fut également directeur du pupitre et directeur des contenus week-end à La Presse. / A journalist for more than 30 years, Alain Bisson began his career at the Journal de Montreal as a journalist covering economics. In recent years, Alain was also weekend content director and bureau chief for La Presse.