Erik Guay, the most successful Canadian male Alpine skier at major events with two world titles, retired two days before what was to be the start of his farewell season.
“It’s been on my mind for a little while now, but there was a lot of things that were tugging me in different directions,” Guay said Thursday, two days before a World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta.
The 37-year-old noted the difficulty of being away from his wife and four daughters, plus a lack of competitiveness. Guay raced twice last season — 12th and 32nd in speed races — and missed the PyeongChang Olympics with a back injury. He was 69th in the first downhill training run of the season Wednesday.
“It’s a sport that involves a lot of risk,” Guay said. “I’m willing to put that risk out there if it’s for a shot at the podium, but the moment that I’m not competitive anymore, I think it doesn’t make any sense to continue to risk it.”
Guay said his decision was affected by longtime Canadian teammate Manny Osborne-Paradis‘ training crash Wednesday. Osborne-Paradis suffered what is believed to be a broken leg, according to Alpine Canada.
Guay started three spots after Osborne-Paradis in the training run.
“I probably made [the decision to retire] in the start gate,” Guay said. “When Manny crashed right away, I thought, you know what, I should just go and take the chair lift down. So it took everything for me to push out of the start gate.
“All I could think about yesterday was Manny. … I couldn’t focus or charge the way that I wanted to, and I think that’s when I kind of knew it was time.”
Guay is a three-time Olympian with a best finish of fourth in the 2006 Olympic super-G.
The Québécois’ best races came at world championships, where he won the downhill in 2011 and the super-G in 2017. His title two years ago in St. Moritz, Switzerland, made him the oldest world champ in any Alpine event.
Guay also won five World Cup races among 25 podiums, the latter a Canadian record.
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