Contributor: Teddy Katz
It’s been a wild ride for Kevin Drury from collegiate alpine athlete to the top of the ski cross world. He is now enjoying one of the most dominant performances ever by a Canadian male on the FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour.
Drury made history in a sport in which Canada has produced some of the best including 2018 Olympic gold medalists Brady Leman and Kelsey Serwa, 2018 Olympic silver medalist Britt Phelan, 2014 Olympic gold medalist Marielle Thompson and 2010 Olympic gold medallist Ashleigh McIvor.
Drury won four races and finished second twice, securing himself the Crystal Globe as the top overall men’s ski cross racer.
“I don’t want to say it’s the highest achievement in the sport because the Olympics mean so much more but at the end of the day the Olympics is one race whereas the Crystal Globe you have to be good the entire season.”
Drury credits changes he made to his mental preparation which left him relaxed even when he was behind in races.
“Even though I’m not saying it to myself, deep down I know I’m fast.”
He was fast last year too, but 2019 was a completely different story for Drury.
“With four races to go, I wanted the season to be over [last year]. I needed a full reset,” adding he barely skied in the off-season so frustrated by what happened in 2019.
He was involved in a lot of crashes last year after finding it difficult to pass and make up ground when he fell behind in races.
But Drury says things did get a lot better this year.
Like many in ski cross, Drury started out as an alpine skier. He was ranked fifth in giant slalom in Canada but in his mid-twenties found his career in limbo.
“I thought for a while my ski career was done but I had a ton of friends in the ski cross world, so I literally just found the name on Alpine Canada’s website – at that time Willy Raine, the Director of Ski Cross. I sent him an e-mail and he invited me to camp. My ski cross career kind of started from there.”
Drury found ski cross was the perfect fit.
“I think the biggest change for me was how much more fun ski cross was. Don’t get me wrong, I love alpine – I still love training alpine. But there’s a different kind of fun factor to ski cross.”
Drury says alpine could sometimes feel like a grind after a sub-par race. But he loved racing beside others in ski cross. It was just like when he started skiing as a youth in the Toronto area.
“Messing around on your home resort as kids, on the slower routes, my buddies and I would just go as fast as we could and bomb down the hill. There’s no gates. You are just following the trail – six to nine of us are all together. I think because of that, I’m not sure why, I have never had a problem being two inches away from someone.”
In 2018 in PyeongChang at his first Olympics, Drury served notice of things to come. He finished fourth and just missed out on a medal after getting tangled up with another racer. The next two World Cups he finished first and second.
“That season, I finished third overall and I think that really was when I started to think, OK, I can win the Globe.” And get the globe he did, in definitive fashion.
On August 15, Drury will marry his fiancé, meaning 2020 will go down as a year he won’t soon forget with a Crystal Globe and a wedding ring to serve as constant reminders.