Canadian alpine skiing has something to cheer about with Valérie Grenier
On Saturday, January 7, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Valérie Grenier made her most cherished dream a reality by taking the first World Cup gold medal of her career. The Club de ski Mont-Tremblant skier, in doing so, made alpine skiing history by being the first Canadian woman in 49 years to win a World Cup Giant Slalom race. We talked with her by phone as she was travelling to Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Austria, to take part in a Super-G race.
It is now a done deal. Valérie managed to make it onto her first podium on the World Cup circuit and, what’s more, to take her place on the top step. The hours and days which followed this win have been a blizzard of congratulations along with unprecedented media pressure which the 26-year-old athlete is not yet used to. She has, however, made every effort to respond to each of the many journalists who have contacted her.
“These last few days off have been a bit difficult,” Valerie concedes. “There have been so many requests for interviews. I expected it, but not to this degree. It’s been excellent, though, and I’m trying to respond to all the messages,” she adds.
It’s no surprise that, for the remainder of the season, Valérie is again going for the podium. She is in exceptionally good shape, as was proven on Sunday, January 8 – the day after the first victory – by a sixth place with a third position on the first run
“It gave me confidence in my abilities and showed that my skiing is very fast, because I made several mistakes in the second run,” she explains, laughing.
The ultimate test: psychological strength
But Valérie is most proud – permitting a prediction that the best is yet to come – that she was able to manage the pressure between the two runs when she had finished in first position on the first run.
“In the past, when I saw women skiers achieving the best times on the first run, I wondered how they were able to manage the stress and come in first again on the second run. It’s really impressive. In the end, I felt so good just before my start for the second run… I was calm and confident. That’s what I’m happiest about: that I succeeded in managing the pressure at a time when it was so crucial.”
Every morning since her injury, Valérie practises breathing exercises using the Wim Hof method, developed by the legendary Iceman. On the morning of January 7, Valérie and her teammate Britt Richardson opted instead for a series of similar respirations accompanied by lively music that they’ve enjoyed recently.
“On that morning, I decided to use Hip Hop Energy Flow instead of Wim Hof. […] The music is full of energy and both of us were in great shape. We have laughed since to think that it’s because of that music that I won,” she says.
For Valérie, the victory represents a kind of relief. Of course, this was by no means an end in itself, because her desire for victory is more unstoppable than ever. But during the days that followed that history-making day, the skier’s thoughts kept turning to all those who never stopped supporting and encouraging her right from the beginning, such as her family and her sponsors.
“It makes me feel good to have been able to show them that they didn’t do it in vain, to prove to them that helping me was worthwhile. I am so grateful that everything’s going well and I can make them proud,” she confides.
In closing, Valérie mentioned that she may be able to come and encourage the skiers during the FIS Nor-Am Cup, scheduled for February 27 to March 2 at Tremblant. With a bit of luck, we’ll be able to cross paths with this great athlete on the slopes that saw her grow and evolve from her earliest days.
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Guillaume Vincent345 Posts
Rédacteur et journaliste de profession, Guillaume Vincent a fait ses armes au sein de l’agence QMI. Il s’est joint au Tremblant Express en 2014. Promu en 2017, il y assume depuis le rôle de rédacteur en chef et directeur de la publication. / A writer and photojournalist by profession, Guillaume Vincent won his stripes in the QMI agency. He joined Tremblant Express in 2014. Promoted in 2017, he has been editor-in-chief and co-publisher since then.