Canadian ski star Erik Guay announces retirement

Canadian ski star Erik Guay announces retirement

Guay annouced his retirement after hearing eteran teammate Manuel Osborne-Paradis had crashed

What was to be a swan-song season for Erik Guay ended early Thursday when the Canadian skier announced his retirement.

Guay felt some ambivalence when he arrived in Lake Louise, Alta., for Saturday’s season-opening men’s downhill.

The 37-year-old from Montreal wondered how competitive he’d be after missing most of last season with a back injury. Guay was also bracing himself for another winter away from his wife Karen and four daughters ranging in age from one to nine.

Then, before stepping into the start hut for Wednesday’s first training run, Guay heard on the race radio that veteran teammate Manuel Osborne-Paradis had crashed.

The tell-tale sound of the chopper to evacuate Osborne-Paradis from the mountain started a cascade of thoughts in Guay’s head because he’d been there: crashes, injuries, surgeries, months of rehab.

“When Manny crashed, I thought ‘I should just go take the chair lift down,’” Guay said Thursday. “It took everything for me to push out of the start gate.’

“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.”

Within hours of crossing the finish line in 69th, Guay made the decision to retire in the place where he won the first of 25 World Cup medals back in 2003, when he claimed downhill silver in Lake Louise.

RELATED: Erik Guay to miss Winter Olympics

“There were a lot of things tugging me in different directions,” Guay explained. “One is my family at home, being away from them for more than a little while is quite difficult at the moment.

“My skiing wasn’t at the level I wanted it to be. I would have been out there looking for the feeling, being far away from my family, far away from my wife for months on end, trying to break through. There were a lot of ifs. I wasn’t willing to do that one more time.”

Along with his two gold medals and one silver world championship medals, Guay is the most decorated male in Canadian ski racing history.

“He’s been one of the best downhill skiers we’ve had over the last, I would say, my generation for sure,” said reigning Olympic men’s downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.

Osborne-Paradis suffered broken bones in his leg and is out indefinitely, leaving the Canadian team bereft of its two most veteran skiers to start the season.

Guay was a role model for skiers on the national men’s team.

RELATED: B.C.’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis finishes fifth in super-G at World Cup

“He’s huge to the ski-racing community in Canada,” Canadian team skier Dustin Cook said. “I remember watching him as a kid.

“It’s definitely a loss for the team. We knew it was coming. It’s still a big hole to fill and big boots to fill for us. He has so much experience and leadership. It’s definitely a tough one for us.”

Less than two weeks after crashing spectacularly in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Guay won super-G gold and downhill silver at the 2017 world alpine championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

“To be able to walk away with two medals at a world championship is quite special,” Guay said. “When you’re on, you’re on. Even big crashes like that don’t affect you. They’re motivating more than anything.

“I had a big crash in Garmisch but it was only because I was competitive and I was charging. As soon as I felt better and the bruises kind of healed, I was ready to charge again.

“I’d had just enough time to heal up between Garmisch and St. Moritz. As soon as I did my first training run there, I knew I was in a place where I could be competitive.”

But it was becoming harder to Guay to navigate the physical toll of ski racing. He took the entire 2014-15 season off after a pair of surgeries on his left knee.

The back injury limited him to just two starts last season and forced him to withdraw from February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The three-time Olympian missed the podium by .03 seconds in 2010 in Whistler, B.C.

His first World Cup downhill win was in Garmisch in 2007. Guay claimed a coveted crystal globe in 2010 as the overall World Cup leader in super-G that season.

He also won the world men’s downhill title in 2011.

From 2006 to 2014, Guay, Osborne-Paradis, Jan Hudec and John Kucera made the Canadian downhill team an international force reminiscent of the Crazy Canucks, led by Ken Read and Steve Podborski, in the 1980s.

“When I grew up, what inspired me a lot was the legacy of the Crazy Canucks, watching them ski race,” Guay said.

“I hope I’ve inspired some young Canadians and some young athletes across the world to also be competitive and enjoy our sport. Really that’s all the legacy that I’d like to leave.”

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

poster
Drop-in Covid vaccine clinic in Mission June 17-18

Neighbourhood clinics complement appointment-based clinics currently operating in Mission

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

(Black Press Media files)
Get ready for mosquito season

Fraser Valley Regionsl District has already taken measures to curb the number of mosquitos

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read